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KOLKATA: Devendra Prasad Kewat, a retired central government employee, had started his journey for Gangasagar a week ago from Gorakhpur (UP) along with two other relatives by a chartered bus.
They traveled 1,680 km and reached straight at a Covid testing tent opposite Eden Gardens on Tuesday. Kewat underwent a mandatory rapid test and was positive for Covid. His relations were also positive. All three were sent to a Kolkata Municipal Corporation-run Covid safe home at a commercial building located close to Science City.
All three woke up early on Friday morning and had to be content watching the holy dip at Gangasagar by devotees sitting at the safe home live on their mobile phones. Kewat, who on arrival had mild symptoms like that of a running nose and bouts of cough is now fully fit and has appealed to the civic officials running the safe home for an early release.
According to a KMC health department official, around 130 pilgrims tested positive for Covid on their arrival in Kolkata from UP, Bihar and Jharkhand and have been spending their isolation period at two KMC-run safe homes. Some pilgrims from south India too were lodged in the safe homes.
In fact, the Gangasagar pilgrims have outnumbered Kolkata’s local residents at city’s major safe homes. According to a source in KMC, of ​​200 Covid patients with mild symptoms, who have been kept at the safe homes, 140 are pilgrims who had come from far-away places. “Besides Gangasagar pilgrims, our safe homes are being occupied by a section of positive patients from slums,” said a KMC health department official.
The civic official said they were receiving requests from pilgrims for an early release to be able to participate in Makar Sankranti festival at Gangasagar. “But we were following government rules and could do nothing. Now we will be releasing some of them from Sunday onwards, ”the official said.
Some pilgrims, who headed for Gangasagar after their swab samples were taken at Kolkata, were not allowed to enter Sagar Island after testing positive. “As they advanced near Kachuberia, the reports were sent to the district administration. The positive patients were refused entry to Sagar Island and sent to different safe homes in places such as Diamond Harbor, Kakdwip, Kachuberia or Sarishahat, ”said a civic official.

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