Kumbh Mela Religious Gathering as a Massive Superspreading Event: Potential Culprit for the Exponential Surge of COVID-19 Cases in India

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  • 1 School of Medicine, Centro Escolar University, Manila, Philippines;
  • | 2 Behavioral Sciences Department, De La Salle University, Manila, Philippines;
  • | 3 Department of Medicine, Father Muller Medical College, Mangalore, Karnataka, India

The Kumbh Mela is a significant religious gathering of millions of Hindu devotees in India. It is celebrated on certain auspicious days in the Hindu calendar and attracts millions of pilgrims across the country. Despite the religious intention of millions of Hindu devotees, it raised public health concerns as it became a massive superspreading event for COVID-19. Being the second most populous country, India became the second most affected country during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to the arrival of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) variants and the presence of the double mutated variant, which was first identified in India, the Kumbh Mela probably aggravated the country’s COVID-19 situation which resulted in an uncontrollable second wave. Several cases of COVID-19 across India had been contact-traced to returnees from the event who acted as a nidus to help spread the infection. As a consequence, India’s healthcare system was severely challenged as a result of the overwhelming hospitalizations and increasing fatalities resulting in an acute manpower shortage in healthcare along with the depletion of drugs and medical supplies despite being one of the largest pharmaceutical hubs globally. Leaders and governments around the world should learn from India’s experience and thereby take preventive measures to manage potential superspreading events to curb the spike of COVID-19 cases.

Author Notes

Address correspondence to Ian Christopher N. Rocha, School of Medicine, Centro Escolar University, 9 Mendiola St., San Miguel, Manila, Philippines. E-mail: rocha1750018@ceu.edu.ph

Authors’ addresses: Ian Christopher N. Rocha, School of Medicine, Centro Escolar University, Manila, Philippines, E-mail: rocha1750018@ceu.edu.ph. Mary Grace A. Pelayo, Behavioral Sciences Department, De La Salle University, Manila, Philippines, E-mail: mary_grace_pelayo@dlsu.edu.ph. Sudhan Rackimuthu, Department of Medicine, Father Muller Medical College, Mangalore, Karnataka, India, E-mail: sudhan.racki@gmail.com.

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