Looming Threat: Uttarakhand needs to ramp up RT-PCR testing to prevent Kumbh from becoming a superspreader event

By: |
March 22, 2021 6:30 AM

The Centre has asked the state government to implement anti-Covid measures with greater intensity, including increasing testing in Haridwar, the Kumbh site.

covid-19There is some uncertainty in predicting the peak value of daily new infections because of the sharp rise.

Even as a significant section of the scientific community believes, as reported by Nature, that Covid-19 herd immunity could prove impossible, there is a clamour across countries for life to return to the pre-Covid normal. More so with vaccination having rolled out in many nations. The rationale of organising a Kumbh Mela amid the pandemic risks will have to read against this backdrop. That said, the Uttarakhand government will need to pay heed to what the Centre is saying on avoiding making the Kumbh a superspreader event.

The Centre, as per a report by NDTV, has asked the state government to implement anti-Covid measures with greater intensity, including increasing testing in Haridwar, the Kumbh site. The Centre’s advice has come in the wake of a high-level central team visiting the state raising serious concern after review of medical care and public health arrangements. The country is seeing a surge in cases after nearly four months, and any lapse in arrangements could prove disastrous. The Union health ministry made note of the fact that, at the moment, 10-20 pilgrims and 10-20 locals are testing positive every day, and advised the state to step up testing—at present, some 50,000 rapid antigen tests are being conducted in Haridwar daily versus 5,000 RT-PCR. The Centre is of the view—as reiterated by the PM in his conversation with chief ministers—that at least 70% of the tests should be RT-PCR. The return to normal is predicated on governments being able to check Covid-19 to the maximum extent possible. While a Kumbh is a big boost to the local and state economy, all benefits would lose their sheen if the state sees an explosion in cases following the Kumbh.

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