Chandigarh, March 28: A 70-year-old Sikh priest, who returned from a trip to Germany and Italy, is being seen as the one who infected 27 of the 38 coronavirus cases reported in Punjab.
The priest, a resident of Nawanshahr, returned to the state on March 7. He died following a cardiac arrest on March 18, officials said here on Saturday.
The test report of his samples which were positive (for coronavirus) came after his death, they said.
He is responsible for infecting almost 70% of the COVID-19 cases in the state, the officials said.
As many as 27 persons contracted coronavirus after they came in contact with the septuagenarian and his primary contacts, they said.
Of these, 14 were his family members, including his two-year-old grandson, they said.
Among the 27 affected, a majority of them belong to Nawanshahr and a few to Phillaur in Jalandhar and Hoshiarpur.
The district administration in Nawanshahr has completely sealed 15 villages and asked around 28,000 people not to go outside their villages, Banga SDM Gautam Jain said on Saturday.
We have traced 700 close contacts of the COVID-19 patients. They are home quarantined and monitored regularly, he said.
Jain said samples of around 350 persons have been taken for testing.
The officials said the septuagenarian, after arriving from Germany, had even attended the Hola Mohalla celebrations at Anandpur Sahib which concluded on March 10.
As reports of the Sikh priest came positive, the administration of Rupnagar conducted a house-to-house survey of Anandpur Sahib residents to check if anyone was showing symptoms of the deadly disease.
An appeal was also made by the administration to the people to get themselves checked if they had met the priest.
During the annual Hola Mohalla celebrations, thousands of Sikh devotees from India and abroad assemble at Anandpur Sahib to pay obeisance at the Gurdwara Kesgarh Sahib and take a dip in the holy Sarovar.
Meanwhile, no fresh case of coroanvirus was reported in the state on Saturday, a medical bulletin said.
In Punjab, 19 COVID-19 cases have been reported in Nawanshahr, six in Mohali, six in Hoshiarpur, five in Jalandhar, one each in Amritsar and Ludhiana.
As of now, a total of 898 samples have been tested, out of which 596 came negative, while the result of 264 samples is awaited, officials added. (PTI)