In Bihar’s Munger district, lone Tablighi Jamaat attendee keeps Covid-19 cases on the boil

The Bihar government is caught in a tizzy after a small locality in Jamalpur area of Munger district upset all its calculations and efforts to contain the spread of Covid-19.  The Sadar Bazar area of Jamalpur in Munger district registered a steep rise in positive cases and the increase continues unabated, despite all the efforts of the state government. Officials fear it is fast turning into the Wuhan of Bihar with 90 cases reported from the district, the maximum. The first reported coronavirus death in Bihar was from Munger itself; a 38-year-old person, who returned from Qatar, died while undergoing treatment at the Patna AIIMS on 22 March.

The state government had quarantined the close contacts of the deceased and, to a great extent, had managed to prevent the virus spread. But the virus sneaked in again via the attendees of the Tablighi Jamaat event in Delhi to Nalanda, and subsequently to Sheikhpura, and to Munger through a jamaati, who was a potato wholesaler. On 15 April, the Nalanda administration sounded the alarm, following which the wholesaler and his close contacts were quarantined. Almost everyone in the family tested positive, including his son and wife. A neighbour, also a social worker, contracted the virus but kept up with his philanthropy till he was diagnosed with the disease and quarantined. Till then, the person had distributed relief in the area and spread the virus also.

A local resident said the jamaati, before being quarantined, had resumed selling potatoes. It’s learnt the jamaati had travelled to at least 6 districts in Bihar after his return from Delhi, including Nalanda and Sheikhpura, where the cases are on the rise. This has caused fears that his buyers too could be susceptible. Since Sadar Bazar is a densely populated pocket, the fear of further spread looms large. Now, the administration is trying to establish the chain link to ensure the virus does not spread further. With Sadar Bazar sealed and sanitisation on in full swing, drones are being used to keep a tab in the red zone with all entry and exit points barricaded.

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