Former king of Nepal Gyanendra Shah | Wikipedia Commons
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Kathmandu: Nepal’s former King Gyanendra Shah and former Queen Komal Shah have tested positive for the coronavirus on their return from India after participating in the Maha Kumbh at Haridwar, according to a media report on Tuesday.

The 73-year-old former King and 70-year-old former Queen recently returned from India where they had taken a holy dip at Haridwar’s Har Ki Pauri during the Maha Kumbh — a religious congregation of Hindu seers and devotees, according to the Health Ministry.

Their samples for the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test were confirmed positive for the COVID-19 infection, The Himalayan Times reported.

According to the report, hundreds of people had gathered at the airport in Kathmandu to welcome the former king and queen during their arrival back home.

The authorities have also initiated a contact tracing to test anyone who came in contact with the royal couple.

Shah was crowned as the king of Nepal in 2001 after his elder brother Birendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev and his family were killed in a massacre at the Royal Palace.

An investigation blamed Birendra’s son Dipendra, who was among the dead, for the massacre.

Shah stepped down in 2008, after a popular revolt forced him to abdicate, and the centuries-old monarchy was abolished, turning the country into a republic by the Constituent Assembly.

He became deeply unpopular when he seized direct control of the nation in 2005, claiming mainstream parties had failed to tackle the deadly Maoist insurgency.

He has kept a low-profile and has occasionally made public appearances.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi last week appealed to the sadhus to observe the remaining duration of the Kumbh only in a symbolic manner in view of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Maha Kumbh formally began in Haridwar on April 1 with several restrictions imposed on devotees coming to attend the event amid rising cases of COVID-19 in various states including Uttarakhand.

A negative Reverse Transcription-Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) test report not older than 72 hours before arrival was made mandatory for devotees gathering for the event.

It was for the first time in the history of the grand religious congregation held on the banks of the Ganga in Haridwar once in 12 years that its duration was curtailed to just one month due to the pandemic.

In normal circumstances, the Maha Kumbh is held for nearly four months. Its last edition was held in Haridwar from January 14 to April 28 in 2010.


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