Hunt for 400-odd contacts of J&K’s first Covid-19 casualty - - Telling the truth- always!

Hunt for 400-odd contacts of J&K’s first Covid-19 casualty

SRINAGAR: A 65-year-old trader and preacher from Sopore in J & K on Thursday became the first Covid-19 casualty in the Valley amid fears that he may have infected many of those he came in contact with, including four persons from Bandipora who have already tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
Health officials in Srinagar said the deceased, a member of the Tablighi Jamaat, had presided over large religious gatherings at Hajin in Bandipora and Sopore in north Kashmir between March 16 and 20. He had apparently closely interacted with and hugged scores of his followers, including the four men who have since tested positive, at both these places. He was diagnosed with Covid-19 on Sunday, two days after the second religious event he attended.
The list of people who were at risk of contracting Covid-19 after coming in contact with the preacher exceeds 400, the officials said.
Before March 16, the preacher was in Jammu for several days. He had travelled there by train and visited several mosques. On March 16, he took a GoAir flight to Srinagar and spent a few hours in his residence at Hyderpora before proceeding to his ancestral place in Sopore.
Sources said the preacher first visited Jhelum Valley Medical College and Hospital at Bemina in Srinagar on Saturday after having difficulty breathing. A preliminary screening revealed symptoms of Covid-19, but he fled the hospital on being referred to SKIMS Medical College in Soura, which is the nodal centre for coronavirus cases in J & K.
On Sunday, the preacher visited SMHS Hospital along with some relatives who allegedly argued with the doctors there when they said that the patient must be immediately quarantined, the sources said.
He was subsequently taken back to the Soura institute, by which time he had been through multiple wards across two hospitals.
“The deceased put many at risk by fleeing the hospital in the first place. Our doctors had referred him to SKIMS because they suspected he had contracted Covid-19,” the superintendent of Jhelum Medical College and Hospital said.
The health department is trying to trace all primary and secondary contacts of the deceased. Every member of the health care staff he came in contact with at the three hospitals he visited has been quarantined.
Doctors suspect the preacher was infected when he was part of an international religious congregation of the Tablighi Jamaat in New Delhi. The event had been attended by delegates from Malaysia and Indonesia.
Bhupinder Kumar, who heads the National Health Mission in J & K, on Thursday appealed to everyone who might have come in contact with the preacher to volunteer for testing. “By not coming forward, you are risking the lives of your loved ones before that of strangers,” he said.
J & K Police has been registering FIRs and initiating legal action against anyone concealing their travel history or violating the lockdown.

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