COVID-19: Adityanath's appeal as UP allows Makar Sankranti holy dip
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Thursday urged people to strictly follow COVID-19 protocols ahead of the 'Makar Sankranti' dip at Sangam, the confluence of three rivers in Prayagraj. The UP government has allowed "Magh Mela"—a 45-day event—in Prayagraj, where lakhs of devotees will take a holy dip on Friday. This has sparked worry that the event could become a COVID-19 super-spreader.
Why does this story matter?
The event being allowed in UP is controversial considering that the neighboring Uttarakhand state has banned devotees from taking a dip in Ganga in Haridwar during festivities. Notably, UP has reportedly seen a 3,600% jump in new COVID-19 cases since January 1. Meanwhile, daily COVID-19 cases in Prayagraj rose from 16 on January 1 to 434 on Thursday.
Symptomatic, unvaccinated individuals asked not to attend
Yogi Adityanath said those who are symptomatic or not fully vaccinated should not attend the fair. The UP government is committed to the safety of the public and this fair is being organized only after fully following the COVID-19 protocol, Adityanth said. Only those who are completely healthy should go for the bath, he added.
Vulnerable groups also asked not to take dip: Yogi
Yogi further said that older people, persons with comorbidities, and children should not go to the bath. He also appealed that the devotees doing kalpavas should go for the bath only at the prescribed time.
What are the restrictions on Makar Sankranti?
Meanwhile, the state government has imposed certain restrictions for those coming to Sangam on Makar Sankranti day. A negative RT-PCR test result has been made compulsory for all, including pilgrims, saints, seers, and visitors, said Prayagraj Chief Medical Officer Dr. Nanak Saran. Authorities have also constructed 10 major ghats stretching from Nagvasuki to Quila Ghat near Sangam to avoid over-crowding.
Vaccination or RT-PCR test mandatory to attend mela
All those coming to the fair must get vaccination certificates or RT-PCR test reports, said Jai Kishan, the health officer in charge of Magh Mela said. "There are provisions for testing at the venue, too," he added. He further said the government has put up hoardings in many places highlighting precautionary measures like wearing masks. "Our screening teams are in place," he added.
Arrangements for sampling centers, ambulances
Magh Mela officer Shesh Mani Pandey said proper arrangements are being made for sampling centers and ambulances in adequate numbers for the fair in view of the pandemic. "Each government staff in the mela is being deputed only after proper screening," he added.
39 cases reported from fair
The fair reported 39 cases till January 12. These include 37 security personnel and police officers. Reports said laxity in following COVID-19 appropriate behavior was also evident in the township where the fair is being organized. Many individuals simply covered their faces with a cloth at the sight of policemen and removed it later, reports claimed.