Coronavirus: Panic Grips Budgam, Faith Healer Turns Positive

by Tasavur Mushtaq

SRINAGAR:  With 17 new cases tested positive on Saturday, taking the total number of infected cases in Jammu & Kashmir to 224, the panic gripped central Kashmir’s Budgam town after it reported its first Covid-19 positive case. For the first time, there was no new case from the capital Srinagar city, the most populous habitation in Kashmir.

As the name of the infected patient surfaced, increased anxiety was witnessed in the area. Hailing from an influential religious family, the 60-year-old patient is said to be a faith healer.

A senior officer at the SKIMS confirmed to Kashmir Life that one of the tests that turned positive today belongs to a patient from Budgam. He said he has no other details to share. SKIMS is the sole testing facility for north Kashmir and the two central Kashmir districts of Budgam and Ganderbal.

According to the family sources, the person had gone to Delhi for his urgent engagement with a family issue. He had returned last month and was home quarantined. Sources said he had not revealed his travel history as well. He, however, was not part of any religious gathering that is usually in the news. However, as per the family, he had undergone tests after he arrived but tested negative.

The locals of the area told Kashmir Life that while being in the home quarantine, he drew a large number of visitors for healing practices.

“He has come back last month and was at home”, said a local adding “he would see people at home.”

The crisis in the area began when it was confirmed that the man is positive and efforts are on to trace all his contact persons. “It is not possible to track all of his visitors. People come from different areas,” said local wishing anonymity.

While fighting the pandemic and taking different measures, concealment of travel history has emerged as a huge challenge for the government.

The men at the forefront continue to appeal to the public to report correct travel history. Spokesman of the UT government, Rohit Kansal who is authorised to break the number of confirmed cases urges the masses to cooperate. “Determined tracking works. Appeal people to cooperate,” he tweeted.

Deputy Commissioner Srinagar Dr Shahid Iqbal Choudhary repeatedly requested people to cooperate. In one of his tweets, Choudhary wrote, “contact tracing holds the key to avoid further spread. Surveillance teams complain reluctance in some areas. Pl be truthful, cooperative and responsible. Easy and quick for all of us. Let’s not complicate anymore.”

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In his tweets, former chief minister Omar Abdullah also urged people to disclose their travel history. “The number of positive #Covid-19 cases in J&K is going up but it’s not too late to #FlattenTheCurve. All we have to do is follow the guidelines to maintain #SocialDistancing & #StayHomeAndStaySafe. Please disclose your travel history & contacts to the authorities,” Omar tweeted in late March.

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