In view of the sudden resurgence of coronavirus infection in the state, the government of Uttar Pradesh has urged the devotees to stick to all the COVID protocols as they arrive in Prayagraj for the Magh Mela. Ahead of the first official bathing day on the occasion of Makar Sankranti, the health department has made all the pre-requisite arrangements, informed an official.
With people coming from all parts of the country, this 47-day long Magh Mela can turn into a super-spreader amidst the ongoing Omicron-led third wave in India, fear experts.
Negative RT-PCR report mandatory for entry
While the state government has not put a limit on the maximum number of people allowed to attend the 47-day long fair, only those with a negative RT-PCR report not older than 48 hours will be permitted to enter the fair. Notably, as of January 12, a total of 39 people including 37 policemen and security personnel have already tested positive for COVID at the mela area.
Talking about the protocols, Dr Nanak Saran-the Chief medical officer (CMO) of Prayagraj said, "Latest RT-PCR tests declaring an individual to be free from the Covid-19 virus are a must for all, including the pilgrims, saints and seers as well as visitors. We have removed 51 individuals from the mela area who did not have the RT-PCR reports with them".
COVID testing facility present at the venue informs official
Shedding some light on the arrangements at the fair, Magh Mela officer- Shesh Mani Pandey said, "In view of the pandemic and the necessary precautions to be taken thereof, we have made proper arrangements of sampling centres and ambulances inadequate number for the fair. Each government staff in the mela is being deputed only after proper screening."
"For the devotees, we have also constructed 10 major ghats stretching from Nagvasuki to Quila Ghat near Sangam in order to divert devotees to avoid overcrowding at one place," added the officer.
The health officer in charge of Magh Mela arrangements, Jai Kishan said "We have put up hoardings at many places highlighting precautions like masks. Our screening teams are in place. All those coming to the Mela have to get vaccination certificates or RT-PCR test reports. There are provisions for testing at the venue too."
Ground reality paints a different picture
Coming to the reality on the ground, while a huge number of people started flocking towards the Mela Township from Thursday, only a handful of them were actually wearing masks. Most people used 'gamcha' to cover their nose and mouth upon seeing policemen, fearing fine. The ignorant people remove this piece of cloth conveniently as soon as the men in uniform walk out of their sight.
-with inputs from IANS