Follow lockdown norms, says Punjab's 'super-spreader'


By NS Desk 14-Apr-2020

<br>He believes had he taken measures to keep the virus at bay, the virus might not have affected his eight family members and 29 other members of his extended family.

He is 43-year-old Malkit Singh, the first patient of Jawaharpur village near Dera Bassi town in Mohali district, some 20 km from here.

He is the village 'panch' or an elected panchayat member and undergoing treatment at the Post Graduate Institute at Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) here.

He was diagnosed coronavirus positive on April 4.

"All my other family members were diagnosed after I was diagnosed coronavirus positive," Singh told IANS over the phone from the hospital.

Regretting that his only mistake was mingling too frequently with his fellow villagers, he said; "Since I am the village 'panch,' it was my duty to take preventive steps and also lend a helping hand to the poor by organising community kitchens in the village itself".

He said his house was located close to a community centre where villagers and district officials frequently meet to chalk out steps to impose lockdown restrictions and the village sanitization.

"I was more actively involved in ensuring round-the-clock logistics support by motivating the villagers on preventing human movement, disinfection of public places and maintaining supply of essential commodities.

"At that time, we ignored the government advisory of maintaining social distancing and the use of face masks," Singh, who owns a small-scale unit in the village to manufacture decoration articles used for banquet halls for wedding ceremony, said.

As per official figures, one more patient from Jawaharpur village tested positive on Tuesday, taking the total cases in the village to 38.

None of the 38 patients has a travel history. Most of them were asymptomatic and tested positive only after testing.

The latest patient is another immediate family member of already positive cases, Mohali Deputy Commissioner Girish Dayalan said in a tweet.

He said one sample of the village has gone for resampling.

Health officials say all patients from Jawaharpur belong to close-knit and extended families of the prime patient.

Mohali district, which lies on the periphery of the state capital Chandigarh, with total 56 positive cases, has become the epicentre of the virus in the state. Out of them five have been cured and two died.

Officials believe Singh contracted COVID-19 from his part-time employee, who returned to the village after visiting Delhi's Nizamuddin Markaz in March.

The panch's first cousin is the husband of village's sarpanch, whose five members tested positive.

"It is wrong to blame my employees for the virus spread. It is true that some of my employees are Muslims and they visit nearby mosque to offer prayers. All the Muslims in the village tested negative. I don't know from where and how I contracted the virus," he said.

"Our village is known for brotherhood of all faiths," Singh, whose family members have been undergoing treatment at Gian Sagar Hospital in Banur near the village, added.

Jawaharpur village is now a containment zone with a complete ban on movement of people along with three neighbouring villages.

"Extensive sampling has enabled us to identify more positive cases within the village and isolate them, hopefully containing the spread in the village with a population of 2,500 plus, as well as beyond," said Deputy Commissioner Dayalan.

(Vishal Gulati can be contacted at [email protected])


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