In a bid to break the chain of coronavirus outbreak in India, PM Modi called for a 21-day lockdown on March 24, deeming it an essential move to contain the pandemic before it gets out of control. Recently, the Tablighi Jamaat gathering in Delhi's Nizamuddin Markaz was charging the headlines of all leading papers and TV channels for being a hotspot for the novel coronavirus outbreak in the country. But another shocking incident from MP has come to light, which could be another hotspot for the virus in India.
At least 12 people have been tested positive for the deadly virus after attending a Shraddh ceremony in Morena—located about 465 kilometers north of Madhya Pradesh's capital Bhopal—on March 20. The massive gathering took place only days before India was put under lockdown.
Mass gathering despite lockdown
A man, who works as a waiter in Dubai, had returned India on March 17 and had organized a mass feast as a part of the shradh ceremony to honour his deceased mother. Despite showing symptoms of coronavirus after his return from Dubai, he visited his relatives' houses to invite them for the feast.
On March 20, the feast was attended by up to 800 people, including relatives, Hindustan Times reported. Later on March 25, the man along with his wife visited the hospital after their condition worsened, where they tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, or coronavirus, and were quarantined on Thursday. But the couple left a long trail of contacts at the feast, and before it while handing out invitations.
Following their trail, 10 others who attended the feast were tested positive for the virus. The waiter's brother, his wife, their son and daughter-in-law and their two children—a six-month-old baby, a three-year-old toddler and four other persons from the man's sister's family are among those infected by the virus, the report added.
"The number of fresh COVID-19 positive cases is likely to be much higher. We're trying to contact each and every person who attended the feast, or those who're invited by the waiter in person but couldn't attend the function. It's quite difficult to trace all those who attended the feast, or he had invited for the occasion because many of them have returned to their respective native places. Besides, people aren't volunteering with information as they're scared of being admitted to hospital," an administrative officer, was quoted as saying.
RC Bandil, chief medical and health officer (CMHO), Morena, said that 32 swab samples were taken and 12 have turned positive. The health officials have put 33 people under quarantine so far, but that's just the beginning.
Religious gathering by Tablighi Jamaat
The report of MP's mass gathering follows the widely-reported and sensitive issue of Tablighi Jamaat Markaz incident, which has state health ministries on their toes to track down the individuals who attended the congregation in Nizamuddin mosque in Delhi. The ministry has revealed statistics, which suggest 647 new coronavirus cases reported in India are linked to Tablighi Jamaat.
"There has been an increase in cases over the last two days. Though COVID-19 positive cases were being reported, the surge has happened only over the last two days. This shows that one mistake can have repercussions and can put us back our efforts in fighting such a pandemic," said Joint Secretary (Health) Lav Agarwal.
It is still not clear how deep the MP's mass gathering trail is running and how many cases of the 800 people who attended the feast will add to the toll.