The Indian government has called for strict social distancing measures but has not declared it a super-spreader event.
An India Today article states that the Central government said that Kumbh Mela was becoming a super-spreader event of COVID-19, and Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) has to be followed. Responding to the article, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare included the article's screenshot and called the report incorrect and fake on Twitter.
The Kumbh Mela 2021, with several restrictions, formally began in Haridwar on April 1, 2021, with increasing cases of COVID-19 in various states across India, including Uttarakhand. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare had released an SOP concerning Kumbh Mela in January 2021. As per the SOP, all pilgrims attending the Mela should have a negative COVID-19 report. They should maintain social distancing, and all the staff deputed were required to be vaccinated before coming to the event. Moreover, the Maha Kumbh Mela, which was supposed to be held for 3-4 months, was shortened for a month.
On April 6, during the press conference, While answering a question, if Kumbh Mela could be a COVID-19 super-spreader, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said, as the super spreader events are concerned, the union government almost a month ago issued an SOP. It was explicitly for practices to be adopted in Kumbh and held a long meeting with the state government's officers to ensure all precautions.
On 16 and 17 March 2021, a high-level Central Team led by the Director of NCDC visited Uttarakhand to evaluate the state's medical and public health preparedness measures for the Kumbh Mela. The Central Team reported that 10-20 pilgrims and 10-20 locals are reported positive every day. This rate can rapidly turn into an upsurge in cases, given the expected large crowd during the event.
Shri Rajesh Bhushan, Union Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, had written to Chief Secretary Uttarakhand, highlighting the high-level central team's concerns. He mentioned the need for severe measures to check the spread of COVID-19 during Kumbh Mela. He also observed that more than 12 states in India had shown a surge in COVID-19 cases. He further said that it has been noted that there is a possibility for an upsurge in the cases during the Kumbh Mela.
Hence the news about the Kumbha Mela was misquoted by India Today. Furthermore, it has revised and renamed its previous report. The Centre didn't describe Kumbh Mela as already a super-spreader.
The COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to a lot of potentially dangerous misinformation. For reliable advice on COVID-19 including symptoms, prevention, and available treatment, please refer to the World Health Organisation or your national healthcare authority.
The COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to a lot of potentially dangerous misinformation. For reliable advice on COVID-19 including symptoms, prevention and available treatment, please refer to the World Health Organisation or your national healthcare authority.