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Uttarakhand govt asked to follow strict measures to control Covid spread. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Kumbh 2021: Centre cautions against Covid-19 spread

A high-level central team has highlighted the need for stringent measures to control the spread of Covid-19 during Kumbh 2021. Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan in a letter to Chief Secretary Uttarakhand has advised the state to increase the number of Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RTPCR) tests as per the ICMR guidelines, to follow the standard operating procedures issued by the ministry of health and family welfare (MoHFW )and to display signages to disseminate the main points of the standard operating procedures (SOPs).

“The State has been informed that the daily testing numbers reported in Haridwar (i.e.50,000 Rapid Antigen Tests and 5,000 RTPCR tests) are not enough to effectively offset the huge number of expected pilgrim footfall. It has been advised that the share of RTPCR tests being conducted at present needs to be significantly increased as per the ICMR guidelines to ensure that the pilgrims and local population are appropriately tested,” the letter read.

The Secretary also noted in his letter that as per the report of the Central Team, that 10 to 20 pilgrims and 10 to 20 locals are being reported positive every day.

This year Kumbh Mela is being organized from April 1 to April 30. (Photo: Twitter)

The state government is also advised to undertake the following measures:

1) Follow scrupulously the SOPs issued by MoHFW. Display signages to disseminate the main points of these SoPs.

2)Increase awareness of self-reporting, especially among the local population, in case of symptoms suggestive of COVID-19.

3)Set up a system for generating early warning signals in areas with the susceptible population by monitoring the trend of ARI/ ILI cases through Emergency Operational Centres.

4)Target significantly enhanced testing in potential high transmission areas.
Continue periodic testing of frontline workers before and after auspicious snan days of the Kumbh.

5)Ensure operationalization of adequate critical care treatment facilities.
Effective risk communication, by using all forms of media platforms, for strict adherence to COVID-appropriate behaviour.

6)In case of a surge in cases/super spreader events, promptly send samples for genome sequencing in consultation with NCDC.

The Union Health Secretary has also observed that currently, more than 12 states in India have shown a surge in Covid-19 cases during the past few weeks, and pilgrims expected to visit Haridwar during the Kumbh Mela could also be from these States. It has been noted that there is a potential for an upsurge in cases in the local population after the auspicious Shahi Snan days during the Kumbh Mela.

A high-level Central Team led by Director National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) had visited Uttarakhand on March 16 – March 17 to review the medical and public health preparedness measures undertaken by the state for the ongoing Kumbh Mela in Haridwar.

A total of 43,846 new coronavirus cases and 22,956 recoveries were reported in the country in the last 24 hours, the Union Health Ministry informed on Sunday.

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