Kumbh Mela: how a superspreader festival seeded Covid across India

From across India, millions of Hindu pilgrims came to take a ritual dip in the Ganges, then returned home carrying Covid-19. Here are their stories

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On 12 April, as India registered another 169,000 new Covid-19 cases to overtake Brazil as the second-worst hit country, three million people gathered on the shores of the Ganges.

They were there, in the ancient city of Haridwar in the state of Uttarakhand, to take a ritual dip in the holy river. The bodies, squashed together in a pack of devotion and religious fervour, paid no visible heed to Covid protocols.

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