The upcoming 'Mahakumbh Mela' is giving sleepless nights to the Union Health Ministry with concerns over the spread of swine flu during the massive congregation of devotees at Haridwar.

The three-month long gathering which starts on January 14 will be attended by millions of people, raising fears of spread of the virus which has killed over 1000 people so far and infected more than 10,000 in the country.

“Swine flu is transmitted from one human to another the way any other viral disease is transmitted. The Union Health Ministry has made all arrangements at Haridwar to combat the spread of this disease. Test facilities, medicines - all will be readily available to any person who complains of being infected here,” Indian Council of Medical Research DG V. M. Katoch said.

He said, “The Director-General of Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS) R. K. Srivastava has been assigned the responsibility by the Union Health Minister to make all arrangements at Haridwar.”

Swine flu is transmitted from one human to another if one person touches something or someone with the H1N1 virus, or droplets in the air from a sneeze or cough of a person who has swine flu.

“Kumbh Mela is attended by millions and is the largest pilgrimage gathering of the world. This cold weather is conducive for swine flu as it helps the virus to grow and multiply. Though arrangements have been made by the government, still then we cannot rule out that swine flu cases will not be reported from there,” a scientist with the National Institute of Communicable Diseases said.

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