mandag 10. mai 2021

India Covid: Kumbh Mela pilgrims turn into super-spreaders

When millions of devout Hindus gathered last month in the Himalayan town of Haridwar to participate in the Kumbh Mela festival even as India battled a devastating second wave of coronavirus, many feared that it would turn out to be a "super-spreader event". Those fears, it now seems, are coming true, with reports of Kumbh returnees testing positive - and possibly spreading the infection - coming from many parts of the country.

When Mahant Shankar Das arrived in Haridwar on 15 March to participate in the festival, cases of Covid-19 were already rising in many parts of India. On 4 April, just four days after the festival officially began, the 80-year-old Hindu priest tested positive for Covid-19 and was advised to quarantine in a tent.But instead of isolating, he packed his bags, boarded a train and travelled 1,000km (621 miles) to the city of Varanasi. There, his son Nagendra Pathak met him at the railway station and they rode a shared taxi to their village 20km (12 miles) away in the adjoining district of Mirzapur.