DEHRADUN: Coronavirus test report for pilgrims visiting Mahakumbh 2021 has been made compulsory now.
Union ministry of health and family welfare on January 22 issued Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to be followed during the religious fair, which is likely to start from February 27 and continue till April 30.
"The government of Uttarakhand would widely publicize, as also convey to all other state governments that only devotees with negative RT-PCR test report (test done 72 hours prior to the date of visit) shall be allowed to enter the Kumbh Mela site. The devotees may carry test reports either on their mobile phones or in hard copies," stated the SOP.
The SOPs also advocate 'appropriate COVID-19 behaviour' like social distancing, wearing of masks, and installing Aarogya Setu App mandatorily.
"The Government of Uttarakhand shall ensure that the Healthcare workers and the other frontline workers engaged during Kumbh Mela medical and public health operations are vaccinated on priority in the ongoing vaccination of this group. Only vaccinated Healthcare and other frontline workers be deputed for Kumbh Mela duties," the SOP read.
Suggesting that the Kumbh Mela authorities ''may consider'' curtailing the total duration of the Kumbh Mela, the SOP listed 15 preventive measures to check the spread of the COVID during the religious congregation.
The measures include:
"Kumbh Mela is not only a religious pilgrimage, but also perhaps the largest mass gathering at one place. It is celebrated four times over a course of 12 years and spans four locations. This year the Kumbh Mela would be held at Haridwar (Uttarakhand). The likely dates for this event are from 27th February 2021 to 30th April 2021. It is expected that about 1 million (10 lakh) people will attend the mela on a regular day and about 5 million (50 lakh) people will attend the mela on auspicious
days," said the SOP.
The SOP also asserts on capacity building by the state government in terms of medical care. Stating that the existing bed capacity of government, referral and private hospitals– all combined is about 2,800 in Haridwar, Rishikesh and Dehradun, the SOP says that this needs to be 'substantially augmented'.
"The expected surge of the floating population and potential outbreak of COVID or other epidemic-prone diseases will overwhelm the existing facilities. Mega-size temporary hospitals (1000 beds) that would augment bed capacity by at least 2,000 beds shall be established. State Government may contact DRDO for setting up such facilities," said the SOP.
The document also added that the state government shall also assess the requirement of PPE kits, consumables, human resources, oxygen and ventilators, and if required, shall procure and store well in advance.(THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS)