Coronavirus in India: Punjab Health Minister blames Uddhav govt for allowing pilgrims to travel without screening after 76 test positive
Photo: ANI

The novel coronavirus outbreak and consequent lockdown across India had left many people stranded far from home. Over the last month, various state government has taken steps to bring people stranded in other states back to their hometowns. This however poses an additional risk in the sense that people travelling from one state to another can pose additional risk and be carriers of the virus.

While states have been taking precautions, including testing people before they begin their journey and also after they reach, they are not always successful. On Thursday, as many as 76 people in Punjab's Amritsar district tested positive for the virus. They had recently returned from Nanded in Maharashtra.

"Among the devotees who have returned from Hazur Sahib to our district, around 300 have been tested, out of which 76 are positive," an ANI report quoted Om Parkash Soni, Punjab's Medical Education and Research Minister as saying.

Stranded in Maharashtra while on a pilgrimage to the Sri Hazur Sahib Gurdwara, they had begun returning home from April 22. Their treatment has now started. The others who had returned from the pilgrimage site have been put in a quarantine facility.

The incident however appears to have triggered a blame game of sorts. On Friday, Punjab Health Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu appeared to hold the Maharashtra government responsible for the crisis.

"They were under Maharashtra govt's observation. It was their duty to implement centre's guidelines. Their samplings and tests should've been done there," he told ANI on Friday.

The Minister added that if Punjab had been told that the tests hadn't been done, "we would've sent two teams there".

He further added that the teams would have tested them and segregated them on its basis. He however reiterated that Punjab was testing all pilgrims.

"We would have brought there here in separate buses. We would have kept the people who tested positive in isolation and the others in quarantine," he added.

"We'll be able to control this within few days.We haven't allowed anyone to go home.Those who came to Tarn Taran directly had come after crossing 5-6 states. They weren't stopped on any border.They entered Punjab. Our government traced them," he assured.

As per data given by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, India has so far recorded over 35,000 positive cases. Maharashtra leads the statistics with over 10,400 cases as of Friday afternoon.

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