The health authorities in the temple town of Varanasi conducted coronavirus disease (Covid-19) test on 101 people at its five iconic ghats along the Ganges and only one person was found to have contracted SARS-CoV-2, which causes the disease, two experts said.

Rapid antigen detection (RAD) tests were conducted on morning walkers, wanderers, boatmen, priests and those taking a daily holy dip in the Ganges at the following ghats: Panch Ganga, Tulsi, Nishadraj, Rani and Bhadaini.

Uttar Pradesh health department authorities carried out the drive at the request of Professor VN Mishra, a neurologist at Banaras Hindu University (BNU), who lives adjacent to Tulsi Ghat.

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Professor Mishra spoke to Dr VB Singh, chief medical officer (CMO), Varanasi, and the Covid-19 test campaign was initiated at the five ghats from Friday. The initiative was launched at Tulsi Ghat.

Professor Mishra thanked CMO Dr Singh for acceding to his request. “The state health department team conducted RAD tests since Friday on 101 people, including 10 morning walkers, priests, boatmen and those who taking a daily holy dip in the river. So far, one person has tested Covid-19 positive,” said Professor Mishra.

He said about 900 people would be tested over the next five days.

Dr Singh exuded happiness about the rest results. ‘The viral infection rate among the people living along the ghats is 1%, as compared to elsewhere, which is up to 7%,” said the CMO.

He said 1,82,391 swab samples have been collected in Varanasi district so far. A total of 1,67,104 results were received out of which 1,55,575 and 11,529 tested negative and positive, respectively. Altogether 9,636 patients have recovered from their viral infection and 188 died of the contagion.

The district still has 1,705 Covid-19 patients, he added.

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