Nepal’s former royals test Covid-19 positive after participating in Kumbh Mela
Nepal’s former royals, King Gyanendra Shah and Queen Komal Shah, have tested positive for Covid-19 days after their return home from India following their participation in the Haridwar Mahakumbh Mela in Uttarakhand.
Samples provided by the couple for RT-PCR tests were confirmed positive, The Himalayan Times reported, citing Nepal’s health ministry. Authorities have begun tracing others who have been in contact with the couple.
The former king, 73, and the former queen, 70, had taken a holy bath at Har Ki Pauri in Haridwar during Mahakumbh. Hundreds of people had gathered at the airport in Kathmandu to welcome the couple on their return.
Gyanendra, who stepped down in 2008 after a popular revolt against him, travelled to Haridwar on April 11 and interacted with Acharya Mahamandaleshwar Kailashananda Giri Maharaj of the Niranjani Akhara and many other sadhus. Nepal’s former royal family is held in high esteem by religious leaders in many parts of north India. Gyanendra was also felicitated at a public event.
The former king was criticised for not adhering to Covid-19 protocols such as social distancing and wearing a mask during the event. He also led the procession of the Niranjani Akhara on April 12.
Thousands of people who attended the Kumbh Mela have tested positive for coronavirus disease.
Gyanendra was crowned the king of Nepal in 2001 after his elder brother Birendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev and his family were killed in a massacre at the royal palace. However, he became unpopular when he seized direct control of the country in 2005 on the grounds that political parties failed to tackle the Maoist insurgency.
After the centuries-old monarchy was abolished, Gyanendra has largely maintained a low-profile.
As Covid-19 infections spiked across the country, the Indian government last week appealed to religious leaders to observe the remainder of the Kumbh Mela only in a symbolic fashion.
On Monday, India recorded nearly 274,000 new coronavirus infections and the total number of confirmed cases was more than 15 million.