A WEDDING in rural Patna a fortnight ago has emerged as a super-spreader of Covid-19, setting off what seems to be the biggest infection chain in Bihar so far, with 113 people testing positive.
The groom, who was running high fever, died on June 17, two days after the wedding in a village in Paliganj sub-division of Patna district, about 22 km from the state capital, and was cremated without a coronavirus test. Over 360 people from Paliganj and adjoining towns of Naubatpur and Bihta, to which members of the bride’s family belong, were tested as part of contact-tracing, and efforts were still on to find others, Health Department officials said Tuesday. The bride is not among the 113 who have tested positive.
Those infected include either the 30-year-old groom’s relatives or guests at the wedding. Fifteen of them are believed to have infected others. Most of them are asymptomatic and admitted to isolation centres in Bihta and Phulwarisharif. The Paliganj sub-division has been declared a containment zone and sealed.
A software engineer working in Gurgaon, the 30-year-old arrived at his village in Paliganj in the last week of May for the wedding. A relative said, “Even though he was feeling unwell by June 14 and wanted the wedding deferred, family heads from both sides advised against it, citing huge financial losses if the arrangements had to be cancelled.”
Another relative, who attended the wedding and tested negative, said that since so many days had passed since the 30-year-old’s arrival, and he had been keeping well all along, no one suspected Covid-19. “As rural areas are almost Covid-free, we were relaxed,” the relative said.
By the day of the wedding, the engineer was running high temperature. The relative said they were concerned but “prayed that it was not Covid infection”. “He performed all the pre-wedding functions after taking paracetamol.”
On June 17, as his condition worsened, the family rushed the 30-year-old to AIIMS, Patna, but he died on the way. It was after the family had cremated him that someone tipped off the district authorities.
All close relatives who attended the wedding were tested on June 19, and 15 tested positive. Between June 24 and 26, a special camp in the village collected samples of 364 people. Of them, 86 tested positive, officials said. On Monday, these numbers were part of the state’s highest single-day spike, of 394 coronavirus cases.
Paliganj Block Development Officer Chiranjeev Pandey said, “Our first priority now is to prevent the infection and break the chain. We have sealed parts of the neighbouring Meetha Kuan, Khagari and some parts of the sub-urban marketplace of Paliganj.”
Bihar has so far recorded 9,988 cases of coronavirus, with Patna seeing the maximum, at 713. The state has a recovery rate of 77%, with active cases only 2,132. Sixty-eight people have died so far.— with PTI inputs
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