Uttarakhand’s Haridwar, the city that is hosting the Kumbh Mela, has reported 1,002 Covid-19 cases in two days – 594 on Tuesday and 408 on Monday, reported NDTV. Hundreds of thousands of devotees have gathered in the city for a ritual bath in the Ganges River despite the massive surge in coronavirus cases.

The Kumbh Mela, which will be held from April 1 to April 30, is expected to be visited by 10 lakh pilgrims each day. The number of devotees visiting the Mela is likely to climb manifold on three days of “shahi snaan” or royal bath – Monday, Wednesday, and April 27.

Several lakhs of pilgrims are visiting the Kumbh Mela every day but only a few are being tested. Other basic Covid-19 protocols such as wearing masks, thermal screening, and checking negative test reports have been ignored.

Pilgrims take a dip in the waters of the Ganges River on the day of 'shahi snan (royal bath)' during the Kumbh Mela, in Haridwar, on April 12 | Credit: Money Sharma/AFP

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Coronavirus: Uttarakhand reduces night curfew timing, CM cites festive celebrations

On Monday, over 28 lakh devotees had turned up to take a dip in the Ganges in open violation of coronavirus norms. Only 18,169 of the pilgrims were reportedly tested between 11.30 pm on Sunday and 5 pm on Monday.

The police had claimed that a stampede may occur if they tried to enforce physical distancing guidelines. The Uttarakhand Police had said it will use Artificial Intelligence to detect those who can be seen not wearing masks in CCTV footage. Authorities said more than 350 cameras were installed, with around 100 of these equipped with sensors that trigger an alert when the image of a person without a mask is captured.

Meanwhile, Uttarakhand on Tuesday reported the highest one-day rise in Covid-19 infections this year, with 1,925 new cases, reported PTI. The state has recorded 1,12,071 total cases of the coronavirus, and 1,780 deaths.

The state government reduced night curfew timing by 30 minutes in view of the festive celebrations during the month of Navratri and Ramzan. Night curfew in the Dehradun Municipal Corporation area will be in effect from 10.30 pm to 5 am, starting from Tuesday.

India on Tuesday recorded 1,61,736 new Covid-19 cases, according to the Union health ministry’s data. The country’s overall tally of infections since the pandemic broke out in January 2020 rose to 1,36,89,453. The toll rose to 1,71,058 with 879 deaths in the last 24 hours. India has 12.64 lakh active cases as of Tuesday morning.