no one would face restrictions as “the faith in God will overcome the fear of Covid-19.” Days later, Mr. Rawat tested positive for Covid.

The positivity rate of random tests is rising at the festival, and more than 300 participants have tested positive, said Dr. Arjun Singh Senger, a health officer at the festival.

The sheer speed of new infections has surprised health officials, who wonder whether variants might be a factor. Answering that question will be difficult. India has put only about 1 percent of its cases through genome sequencing tests, according to Dr. Reddy, of the Public Health Foundation of India, but researchers require a minimum of 5 percent to determine what is circulating.

So far, the government has found variants from the U.K. and South Africa as well as a local mutation. Limited information suggests that more infectious variants are circulating in India, as well, Dr. Reddy said.

Even if the variants have not yet been a major part of the new wave of infections, they have cast a shadow over India’s crucial vaccination drive. The AstraZeneca vaccine has been rejected by South Africa ineffective against that variant.

“This time, the speed is much faster than the last time,” said Dr. Vinod K. Paul, the head of India’s Covid response task force. “The next four weeks are very, very crucial for us.”

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