New Delhi: A senior official in the Central government, during a Secretary-level meeting over the COVID-19 situation in the country on Monday, expressed apprehension that the ongoing Kumbh might become a “super spreader”, according to a top source in the government.
The source said the government is worried about the Kumbh and discussed this at a high-level meeting on Monday.
“If the government does not decide to end Kumbh before the stipulated time, it may become a COVID-19 ‘super spreader’,” a member in the high-level meeting said.
“The government is forming a team that will appeal to all with the help of sadhus and religious leaders to ensure pilgrims, who are visiting the Kumbh, wear masks and follow social distancing,” the source told ANI.
“At the same time, the government also suggested that a message should be given through TV and radio, and posters should be put up at public places to create awareness amongst masses that the pandemic is not over yet,” the source added.
However, the Centre is not considering prematurely ending the holy congregation.
The government also asked for ideas from the officials to curb the spread of the infection.
Sources added that the government is planning to run a “Healthy Fear for Corona” mission to ensure that the fear of the disease remains in the people and they feel discouraged to flout the established health norms.
The Central government has already directed the Uttarakhand government to follow all the “stringent measures” to control the spread of the deadly virus during the Kumbh.
The Uttarakhand government already released a set of guidelines that is to be followed, which requires people to strictly adhere to COVID-19 norms. A negative RT-PCR test report not older than 72 hours before arrival has been made mandatory for devotees gathering for the Kumbh.
There will be three major bathing dates (shahi snan) on April 12, 14 and 27 during the Kumbh Mela this year.
Kumbh is held periodically at four different locations in India — Nashik, Haridwar, Prayagraj, and Ujjain — every four years.
In normal circumstances, Kumbh continues for nearly four months but this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the duration of the congregation has been curtailed to one month.