Hindus take dip in the Ganges for Indian festival

As huge crowds made their way towards the river on a special day of bathing during the weeks-long "Kumbh Mela" festival, health authorities had to pull back a COVID-19 testing crew.

Kumbh Mela In-Charge and the Police Inspector General Sanjay Gunjyal said 650,000 devotees had bathed in the river since Wednesday (April 14) morning.

People were being fined for failing to observe social distancing in some areas.

Infections in the city have already jumped to more than 500 a day since Kumbh Mela, or the pitcher festival, officially began this month, from just 25-30 last month, health authorities said.

Hotels have become isolation shelters for those found infected by a team of 300 medical staff running 40,000 random tests daily.

Devout Hindus believe bathing in the holy Ganges absolves people of sins, and during the Kumbh Mela, it brings salvation from the cycle of life and death.

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