Coronavirus: 67-year-old Kumbh Mela returnee infects 33 in Bengaluru
A 67-year-old woman who had visited the Kumbh Mela tested positive for the coronavirus in the first week of April and infected as many as 33 more people in Bengaluru, The Times of India reported on Wednesday. The infected included 13 psychiatric patients at the Spandana Healthcare and Rehabilitation Centre in the city as well as 18 family members of the woman.
Reportedly, a few days after the woman tested positive, her 40-year-old daughter-in-law, who is a psychiatrist at the Spandana Healthcare, also tested positive. However, she did not have any symptoms at that time. The hospital where she worked decided to test all her contacts and subsequently, 13 of her patients and two staff members were found positive.
After the infections were reported, the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) officials rushed to the facility for an inspection. A civic body official said that none of the infected showed severe symptoms and have since recovered. "As we traced further, we found the source was a Kumbh returnee from the psychiatrist's family," the BBMP official told The Times of India.
Dr. Mahesh R Gowda, who heads Spandana Healthcare, said they had to close down one floor of the hospital because of the infections. The patients at the facility did not further spread the virus as they were isolated on time. "However, we don't know if the 18 family members further spread the virus to others," said Dr. Gowda.
The Kumbh Mela, one of the world's largest gatherings, was held this year in Haridwar, Uttarakhand despite an unprecedented surge in coronavirus cases all across India. In addition to massive crowds at the religious congregations, coronavirus protocols such as wearing face masks and maintaining social distancing were blatantly ignored. The gathering was finally called off on April 17, hours after the Prime Minister's appeal.
Both the Uttarakhand government and the central government have been severely criticized by science experts and Opposition leaders for going ahead with the Kumbh Mela. The Uttarakhand High Court also recently slammed the state government for allowing the gathering. On Wednesday, the World Health Organization (WHO) said religious and political events were among the factors that led to the deadly COVID-19 surge in India.
India has been gripped by a dreadful second wave of the coronavirus amid acute shortages of hospital beds, medical oxygen, drugs, and even vaccines. In the past 24 hours, the country logged 3,62,727 fresh COVID-19 infections. 4,120 deaths were also recorded during the said period. India has fully vaccinated only 2.5 percent of its population of 1.4 billion.