A senior member of the Tableeghi Jamaat, a non-political Islamic outfit, who has tested positive for coronavirus may turn out to be Kashmir’s “super-spreader” — like South Korea’s “Patient 31”, who is reported to have caused a rapid rise in cases in that country.
A day after the member, a resident of Srinagar, was found positive for COVID-19, Health Department officials said four people, also members of the same outfit, who come from Hajin in Bandipore district, were tested positive on Wednesday, making it eight confirmed cases in Kashmir.
While they are still not sure where the 65-year-old contracted the virus, officials said he travelled to several places in February and March, and health officials are now trying to trace all those he may have come in contact with.
Director Health Services, Kashmir, Dr Samir Matoo told The Indian Express that the person attended religious gatherings in New Delhi, Deoband (UP), in Jammu and also in Sopore, north Kashmir. “He took a train from Deoband to Jammu and a flight from Jammu to Srinagar during his journey,” Dr Matoo said. “We are contacting health authorities in Delhi and UP to inform them about the case.”
A doctor privy to the case told The Indian Express that the patient had developed symptoms while he was in Deoband. “After arriving in Srinagar, he got himself checked by a physician in Sopore. The doctor is under quarantine,” he said.
Sources said seven doctors who have come in contact with the patient are being tested.
According to officials, the 65-year-old first approached Jhelum Valley Hospital in Srinagar on March 21 with serious symptoms of flu. He was treated and sent home. On March 22, he visited Srinagar’s SMHS Hospital and was diagnosed as a suspected coronavirus patient. He was then referred to Chest Disease Hospital.
He is currently admitted there and doctors said his condition has improved.
Sources said he entered Kashmir on March 16 from Jammu. “He has had a long travel history in February and March. He has been in close contact with scores of people. We are yet to figure out the exact number of people he has been in touch with,’’ a senior official said.
The official said the 65-year-old travelled to Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Kochi (Kerala) and Hyderabad. “He has spent time with several people from Malaysia and Indonesia during religious congregations, and was also in Delhi…” the official said.
Tableeghi Jamaat (group for Spreading Faith) focuses on urging Muslims to return to practising religion as it was practised during the lifetime of Prophet Muhammad, with focus on rituals, dress, and personal behaviour.
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