Nepal ex-royals test positive for COVID after India’s Hindu festival Coronavirus pandemic news

Former King Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah and Queen Komal Rajya Laxmi Devi Shah test positive after attending Kumbh Mela.

The former King and Queen of Nepal tested positive for COVID-19 upon their return from a religious holiday in India attended by millions of Hindu pilgrims.

Former King Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah, 73, and his Queen Komal Rajya Laxmi Devi Shah, 70, returned to Kathmandu on Sunday after a week-long visit to India to celebrate Kumbh Mela or the thrower festival.

Shah’s press secretary Phani Raj Pathak confirmed the couple tested positive for coronavirus.

“They are isolated at Nirmal Niwas,” he said in a statement Tuesday evening, referring to their residence.

Kumbh Mela, held in the town of Haridwar in the state of Uttarakhand in northern India, attracts huge crowds of Hindu worshipers to take a ritual dip in the Ganges.

Pressure has grown to stop the festival, which has drawn up to 25 million people since January, as India struggles to stem its raging coronavirus outbreak.

Health experts had warned it could turn into “Super-spreader” event as pilgrims who have mostly ignored official advice to maintain their social estrangement, return to their towns and villages all over India and abroad.

A Hindu seer who attended the festival has died from coronavirus and hundreds of attendees have tested positive, forcing Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to ask religious leaders to celebrate the festival in the spirit.

Shah, the last king of Nepal, was crowned in 2001 after his older brother Birendra Bir Bikram Shah and his family were killed in a massacre that wiped out most of the royal family.

He resigned from the throne in June 2008 after parliament voted to abolish the 240-year-old Hindu monarchy of Nepal, turning the country into a secular republic.

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