Coronavirus (COVID-19): On April 5, when a 52-year-old fruit trader from north Kashmir’s Hajin complained of weakness, his family shifted him to Shri Maharaja Hari Singh hospital in Srinagar. His sudden death evening put the hospital staff in tizzy. Hours after, the throat swab taken from him for an examination tested positive for COVID-19.
Immediately after the test results came, the administration and health officials in Hajin put the trader’s family members and immediate contacts under quarantine and tested them.
By April 18, 11 of his family members and 17 neighbours they had come in contact with tested positive for the infection.
The administration is yet to find how the trader acquired the infection as he had no travel history or any contact history with a COVID-19 positive patient.
Hajin, meanwhile, is turning out to be a hotspot of COVID-19 in Kashmir and has triggered fears of cluster transmission. The government has declared eight of the 36 villages of the tehsil as red zones.
Official figures show that Hajin tehsil, which comprises 36 panchayats and has a population of 90,000, has 64 COVID-19 cases. More than half of them are from Gund Jahangir, the village where the trader lived. The village with a population of 3,300 has 34 COVID-19 cases and 29 of them belong to a neighbourhood of 70 households where the trader lived.
“We have put the entire neighbourhood under quarantine,” said Shahnawaz Bukhari, nodal officer for Hajin. “While around 180 of them are in administrative quarantine, the rest have been put under home quarantine”.
The first cases from Hajin were reported on March 25, the day Kashmir witnessed its first COVID-19 death. For over a week, the administration was focused on tracing their contacts and everything seemed to be under control. But then there was a flurry of cases from Gund Jahangir after officials started testing contacts of the trader.
“We are close,” a senior official of Bandipore told The Indian Express when asked whether they have been able to find how the trader acquired infection. “We are hopeful of a breakthrough in a day or two.”
Officials say 558 tests were conducted in Hajin. Of these, 494 samples have tested negative. Of the 64 COVID-19 patients, one has died and 11 have recovered.
“So far, we have put more than 600 people under administrative quarantine (in Hajin). Of them, 170 have been released after they tested negative and completed the mandatory quarantine period. They are now under home quarantine. In addition, more than 600 people have been asked to remain in strict home quarantine,” Bukhari said. “During our door-to-door survey, 2500 families have been screened and 106 high-risk people sent to administrative quarantine.”
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines