As Omicron drives a massive surge in cases across the country, the Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh has decided to go ahead with a “Magh Mela” in Prayagraj, where lakhs of devotees are expected to take a holy dip tomorrow.
Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, who refused to take a cue from neighbouring Uttarakhand to ban the gathering, today put out an appeal ahead of the “Makar Sankranti” dip at Sangam, the confluence of three rivers in Prayagraj.
Those symptomatic or not double vaccinated should not attend the fair, said the Chief Minister, who faces an important test ahead as he seeks reelection in the February-March UP polls.
To check the Covid spike, Uttarakhand has banned devotees from taking a dip in the river Ganga at Haridwar during the annual festival that usually draws thousands of people from across the country.
But things are playing out differently in neighbouring Uttar Pradesh where the government claims Covid protocol is in place.
“We have put up hoardings at many places highlighting precautions like masks. Our screening teams are in place. All those coming to the Mela have to get vaccination certificates or RT-PCR test reports. There are provisions for testing at the venue too,” said Jai Kishan, the health officer in charge of Magh Mela arrangements.
A quick ground assessment on Wednesday revealed few wearing masks, and many covering their face with a gamchha or scarf as they arrived at the venue.
Uttar Pradesh has reported a 3,600 percent jump in new cases since January 1.
The “Magh Mela”, a 45-day event starting tomorrow, has the makings of a super-spreader in the midst of the Third Wave of Covid in the country.
Covid cases have gone up ten times in Prayagraj in the past week, from 92 to 1267. Across UP, the jump is multiple times, from 3,173 to 57, 355 cases.
Political rallies have been banned in UP and other election-bound states because of the spike in Covid cases.