Coronavirus (COVID-19): On April 4, a 16-year-old boy was escorted from a mosque in ward number 10 of Katghora, a small town in Chhattisgarh’s Korba district, to AIIMS-Raipur. A resident of Maharashtra, he was scared when told that he had tested positive for COVID-19. He has since recovered. But according to officials, at least 3,000 people could have come in contact with him, possibly due to lax quarantine.
The small town of Katghora has now emerged as the only COVID-19 hotspot in Chhattisgarh, which has reported 33 cases so far. “We have 23 positive cases from the area. All are asymptomatic. We are testing 300 samples every day, so it is possible we find more,” Health Secretary Niharika Barik said.
Kathgora is located off the national highway connecting Ambikapur and Bilaspur. It was sealed off on Thursday.
“We have shut all entry and exit ways, all stores are closed, everyone has been home quarantined. We are trying to contain the infection in the two wards that were affected,” a senior government employee said.
In the two wards are two mosques that were used as temporary shelters for pilgrims. The 29 people who had travelled in two groups from Maharashtra to Chhattisgarh before the lockdown were quarantined in these mosques. “After we got details of people who attended Nizamuddin Markaz, we became extra sensitive. Regardless of whether people had a travel history to Nizamuddin, we started getting everyone quarantined,” Barik said.
However, the mosques in Kathgora where the pilgrims were quarantined were not completely sealed. “Men used to go in to deliver food to people living there… These people lied to us… which caused confusion. We have registered an FIR,” Bilaspur range IG Dipanshu Kabra said.
After enforcing the quarantine on March 30, the health department started looking into those living at the mosques. “One of them had gone to Nizamuddin markaz, but he tested negative. But the child from that group tested positive,” an official said.
The basti around the mosque where the boy was living is heavily populated.
The government has now brought in drones to keep an eye on the people. “Health officials are carrying out a door-to-door survey and taking samples of anyone with contact history with anyone who went to the mosque,” Korba SP Abhishek Meena said.
The health department Monday sent a four-member team to Korba to “help the district authorities and to plan effective containment”.
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