India made astonishing record of Covid surge on Wednesday crowds of pilgrims gathered for a religious festival despite oxygen shortages and strict curbs in other areas.
According to Sanjay Gunjyal, the inspector general of police at the festival, around 650,000 people had bathed on Wednesday morning in the Ganges River.
Consequently, India 184,372 cases in the last 24 hours, health ministry data showed, taking total infections to 13.9 million. Deaths rose by 1,027, to a toll of 172,085.
Even then hundreds of thousands of devout Hindus gathered to bathe in the Ganges river on Wednesday, the third key day of the weeks-long Kumbh Mela — or Pitcher Festival.
“People are being fined for not following social distancing in uncrowded ghats (bathing areas), but it is very hard to fine people in the main ghats, which are very crowded,” he said.
There was little evidence of social distancing or mask-wearing, according to a Reuters‘ witness.
More than a thousand cases have been reported in Haridwar district in the last two days, according to government data.
India’s richest state Maharashtra, the epicentre of the national second wave and which accounts for about a quarter of the country’s cases, is due to impose stringent restrictions from Wednesday to try to contain the spread.
Elsewhere, overstretched private hospitals are turning patients away, placing an increasing burden on government facilities.