Alarm in Punjab After Nanded Pilgrims, Kota Students Test Positive

On 29 April, 18 pilgrims who returned from Nanded and four students from Kota tested positive for COVID-19 in Punjab

Published29 Apr 2020, 03:15 PM IST
India
3 min read

The Punjab government announced the extension of the lockdown to 17 May, even as COVID-19 cases witnessed a sudden spike. The spike took place mainly after pilgrims returning from Maharashtra’s Nanded and students coming back from Kota in Rajasthan tested positive.

On 29 April, 18 pilgrims who returned from Nanded and four students from Kota tested positive for COVID-19. This has taken the total tally in the state up to 375 as of 5 pm on Wednesday.

Alarm in Punjab After Nanded Pilgrims, Kota Students Test Positive

The threat is particularly acute in the border district of Tarn Taran, where five pilgrims who had returned from Nanded tested positive in Bhikhiwind/Patti. This is bad news for the district as till now been a green zone and comparative less affected than many other parts of the state.

The pilgrims had come back from Nanded in an SUV and the Maharashtrian driver of the vehicle is also said to have tested positive in his home state.

One of the worst affected districts in this sudden spike is Ludhiana, where eleven people reportedly tested positive on Wednesday. Out of these, seven are pilgrims who returned from Nanded on 25 April and four are students who came from Kota two days later.

The patients were asymptomatic, civil surgeon Dr Rajesh Bagga told Tribune.

With these 11 cases, the total number of cases in Ludhiana went up to 29.

The district administration says that it has quarantine 56 pilgrims and 20 students who were brought back to the state.

Then in Mohali, the samples of 41 people (39 pilgrims from Nanded and two students from Kota) were tested. Out of the 17 reports which came, six tested positive for COVID-19. Five of the six are in Mohali and one in Ambala, Haryana.

Moranwali village in Hoshiarpur district has also emerged as a hotspot after three elderly women who came back from Nanded, tested positive. The driver of the vehicle in which they travelled also tested positive.

They had come back in a group of 16 and the Hoshiarpur administration says that all the other travellers have been placed in isolation and that their samples are being tested.

Two more pilgrims tested positive in Faridkot district.

Did Punjab Govt Make A Mistake?

Until a few days back, the Captain Amarinder Singh government in Punjab had been showcasing the manner it which it brought back pilgrims from Huzur Sahib in Nanded, Maharashtra and students from Kota in Rajasthan.

But now the government is facing flak for this exercise, given how it has led to a spurt in cases. There are allegations that the government acted one day after the pilgrims had arrived.

The government order to quarantine returning pilgrims and students came on 27 April, after the Tarn Taran cases came to light.

Order by Punjab secretary of health and family welfare
Order by Punjab secretary of health and family welfare
(@kbssidhu1961/Twitter)
Order by Punjab secretary of health and family welfare
Order by Punjab secretary of health and family welfare
(@kbssidhu1961/Twitter)

However, the Punjab government denies that there was any delay. According to special chief secretary KBS Sidhu, the pilgrims were screened on arrival and only then sent to their respective homes.

According to Sidhu, a six step procedure is followed:

  1. Bus reaches the district
  2. Everyone goes to State quarantine facility of the district.
  3. Symptomatic are taken to Phase 1 Isolation Facility.
  4. All are tested - both who are symptomatic and those who aren’t.
  5. Results come and those who are negative, are to sent home for strict quarantine of 21 days.
  6. Those who are tested positive continue to be in the Isolation Facility Phase 1.

Now the challenge for Punjab would be to identify if any further spread of COVID-19 has taken place due to the returning pilgrims and students. It would also have to prepare for the arrival of more people, including 250 who are stranded in Delhi’s Gurdwara Majnu ka Tila.

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