Rajat Sharma

Beware of the super spreaders of Coronavirus, they are behind the spike in numbers

AKB2610Doctors attending to COVID-19 patients in Delhi’s Lok Nayak Jayaprakash hospital on Thursday complained on India TV that some of the belligerent patients have been taking off their masks and threatening doctors to infect them with the deadly virus. These patients had been abusing the doctors and making threatening gestures. Who are these patients? No prizes for guessing.

On Thursday night in my prime time show ‘Aaj Ki Baat’, I spoke to Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan. He said an ordinance has already been brought, and if doctors or health workers are threatened, they can file complaints against the patients with police, and the SHO will have to complete investigation and file case within a month.

I think these provisions are for extreme cases only, where doctors and nurses are attacked. To deal with such incidents immediately, police must be stationed at dedicated COVID-19 hospitals so that the culprits can be dealt with sternly. In the LNJP case, the Health Minister promised to speak to the hospital medical superintendent and ask him to take action.

If any doctor or health worker throughout India is either abused or attacked or threatened while dealing with COVID-19 cases, they are free to contact me on my phone number 93505 93505. I promise to take up such matters with the highest authorities including the chief minister or the health minister.

The number of Coronavirus cases in India jumped from 21,358 on Wednesday to 23,113 on Thursday, an 8.3 per cent rise, the highest single day surge of 1,755 cases. So far, 721 persons have died. Mumbai tops the list, followed by Delhi. Though the overall spread of the virus has been halted due to the 30-day lockdown still in force, there are hot spots in cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Ahmedabad and Jaipur, where the number of cases is still on the rise. This is because of the super spreaders who are passing on the virus to a large number of people.

On Thursday, Ajmer joined this list with its main hot spot around the world famous dargah of Hazrat Moinuddin Chishti. Out of the 107 people found positive, 94 persons got the virus from one super spreader.

Rashid, who use to sell caps near the dargah, had recently started selling vegetables. He was the first to get infected and he passed on the virus to 15 family members and five friends, who in turn passed on to their wives, and these women who were maids passed on the virus in those houses where they used to work. Till now, 343 people are in quarantine. Doctors said, Rashid had virus symptoms but when his condition worsened he went to the hospital on April 19. By that time, he had already passed on the virus to 94 persons.

Another super spreader was Mubarak Ali, who returned from Oman to Delhi on March 12. He had fever at that time, but he took paracetamol tablets to lower his body temperature, passed airport screening, and took a Rajasthan Roadways bus to Ramganj locality in Jaipur. He had been advised 14-day home quarantine since he had returned from abroad, but he freely mixed with nearly 200 people. He had dinners and get-togethers with old friends, and in the process, he passed on the virus.

Adding fuel to the raging fire, five Tablighi Jamaat workers came from Delhi’s Nizamuddin Markaz and took shelter in Rahmania Masjid in the same locality and passed on the virus to more people. Today, Ramganj locality has been declared a red zone. It has been fortified from all sides and entry and exit of people have been severely restricted. Health teams still continue with their contact tracing tasks.

Another super spreader was a migrant labourer from Bihar in Bengaluru’s Hongasandara locality. He had weak lungs due to tuberculosis earlier. He used to cook food for other workers who stayed with him. He passed on the virus to nine other migrant workers and the sword of the virus is now hanging on nearly 200 others. Nearly 120 persons have been quarantined and the families of auto drivers who took him to hospitals have also been put in quarantine.

In Old Delhi’s Jama Masjid locality, 11 members of a family were found positive. These include six men and five women including a 12-year-old girl. The family of three brothers stay in a two-storeyed building built on a single plot. One of the family members is undergoing treatment in Max hospital, Saket. When all the 18 members and their contacts were tested, seven were found negative, while the remaining 11, were found positive. They have been admitted to Jagpravesh Hospital. The entire Hakimji Gali and adjoining lanes have been sealed. Here the administration has not revealed names of the patients.

In Lucknow, the Kasaibaada locality has become another hotspot with 99 patients. The virus was noticed on April 5 when 12 Tablighi Jamaat members hiding in Ali Jan Masjid were traced and taken to hospital. All of them were later found positive. By that time, the chain reaction had started which is still continuing.

The caretaker of the mosque Mirajuddin and his family members were found positive. A neighbour and his family members were also tested positive. A lady social worker Sheeba who used to visit the mosque regularly was also found positive. The jump in the number of cases came when Hari Ram Gupta, a general store shopkeeper and his employee were also found positive. Another person, Irfan, who used to work in a community kitchen, also caught the virus and in all the number has now reached 99. Imagine, if the Jamaat workers had not been hiding inside the mosque, the number of cases would have been lower.

The Tablighi Jamaat chief Maulana Saad is still in hiding and he has not yet issued any appeal to his workers to come out and cooperate with the authorities. This has become a bigger challenge as time passes and the activists in hiding do their work as super spreaders of the deadly virus. I once again appeal to Maulana Saad to ask his supporters who are in hiding to come out and get themselves tested. According to a report, the number of such people who haven’t come out is around 400. If they don’t come out and become super spreaders it could be very dangerous.

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