Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has appealed to devotees, arriving in Prayagraj for the 47-day long Magh Mela, to follow Covid-19 protocols strictly.
The state government has not restricted the number of devotees at the mela but has made it mandatory to bring a RT-PCR report, not older than 48 hours.
The mela area has already reported 39 positive cases by the night of January 12 which includes 37 policemen and security personnel.
However, the officials have made elaborate health arrangements for the devotees, who are arriving here for the first official bathing day which is on Makar Sankranti (January 14) on the banks of Sangam.
Chief medical officer (CMO) , Prayagraj, Dr Nanak Saran, said: "Latest RT-PCR tests declaring an individual to be free from the Covid-19 virus are a must for all, including the pilgrims, saints and seers as well as visitors. We have removed 51 individuals from the mela area who did not have the RT-PCR reports with them."
Magh Mela officer Shesh, Mani Pandey, said: "In view of the pandemic and the necessary precautions to be taken thereof, we have made proper arrangements of sampling centres and ambulances in adequate number for the fair. Each government staff in the mela is being deputed only after proper screening."
"For the devotees, we have also constructed 10 major ghats stretching from Nagvasuki to Quila Ghat near Sangam in order divert devotees to avoid overcrowding at one place," he added.
Jai Kishan, the health officer in charge of Magh Mela arrangements, said: "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."
Meanwhile, as devotees started arriving at the Mela township on Thursday, few were actually seen wearing masks.
Most of them covered their faces with 'gamcha' at the sight of policemen and then removed it.
Uttar Pradesh has reported a massive jump in new cases since January 1 and the Magh Mela has the makings of a super-spreader in the midst of the third wave of Covid, since devotees come here from all parts of the country.
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