Those returning from Kumbh will spread Covid-19 like 'prasad': Mumbai mayor
Mumbai’s mayor Kishori Pednekar said on Saturday people coming back from the Kumbh Mela in Uttarakhand’s Haridwar will have to be quarantined to stop the spread of the coronavirus infection in the city, which is already struggling with rising cases of Covid-19. Millions of people from across the country have attended the religious gathering in Haridwar even as experts have raised concerns about the spread of more contagious variants of the disease during such events.
“I don’t know who has gone and who is coming back from the Kumbh Mela. But just like the event of our Muslim brothers in Delhi last year and 27 people added to the cases, those who are returning will spread the disease like prasad in every state and the situation will become worse,” she was heard saying in a video tweeted by news agency ANI.
Kishore Pednekar was referring to the gathering of the Tablighi Jamaat held during the outbreak of the pandemic in Delhi in March last year and which was termed as a superspreader. Markaz was one of the first hotspots of Covid-19 in Delhi from where the police evacuated 2458 people after a 36-hour drive on April 1, 2020. The Delhi Police charged 952 foreigners from 36 countries who took part in that gathering and stayed when lockdown was imposed in the country.
According to official on Friday, 2167 people were found positive for coronavirus disease in Haridwar over the last five days. The Uttarakhand State Control Room said there were 254 Covid-19 positive cases on April 10, 386 on April 11, 408 on April 12, 594 on April 13 and 525 on April 14. Haridwar reported 539 of 2402 fresh cases in Uttarakhand on Friday and 28 seers from three akhadas tested positive for Covid-19, officials said. Haridwar’s chief medical officer, Dr SK Jha, said around 75 seers have tested positive over the last two months. The rising cases prompted Prime Minister Narendra Modi to tweet and call to keep the religious congregation symbolic due to the pandemic.
Kishori Pednekar welcomed Prime Minister Modi’s tweet appealing devotees to keep the Mahakumbh symbolic as the country reported more than 200,000 new Covid-19 infections for the third straight day in a row. “The tweet by Prime Minister Modiji is absolutely correct and it should be curtailed. But it won’t help and people should quarantine themselves to avoid infecting others. In Mumbai, we have asked hotels to quarantine them,” she said.
Akhadas, the all-powerful spiritual sects to which seers belong, have also called for ending Mahakumbh midway after several seers tested positive for Covid-19 and two chief seers, or Mahamandaleshwar, died from the viral disease. Mahakumbh, which started on April 1, is scheduled to end on April 30.
“People should be faithful and it is correct but this is the time for shakti (strength). People should keep themselves safe, stay home, wear masks, wash hands and avoid going to crowded places. All this is shakti…” Kishore Pednekar said.
She also said that Mumbai, which is among the worst-hit cities by the coronavirus disease, should be brought under a complete lockdown. “Ninety-five per cent of Mumbaikars are adhering to Covid-19 restrictions. The remaining 5% of people who are not following restrictions are causing problems to others. I think a complete lockdown should be imposed looking at the current Covid-19 situation,” Pednekar said, according to ANI.
Mumbai, already under a partial lockdown after chief minister Uddhav Thackeray imposed a 15-day curfew on Tuesday, on Friday reported 8803 Covid-19 cases and 53 fatalities, which have pushed its tally to 562,207 and death toll to 12,250.