65-year-old religious preacher dies of coronavirus, first death in Kashmir

Covid-19 update: Jammu and Kashmir reported its first death due to coronavirus disease in Srinagar.

A 65-year-old coronavirus patient in Jammu and Kashmir died in a Srinagar hospital. His death has led the government to renew calls to take adequate precautions(Pratham Gokhale/HT Photo)

A 65-year-old religious preacher who had tested positive for the coronavirus disease this week died in a Srinagar hospital early Thursday, the first Covid-19-linked death in Jammu and Kashmir.

A government official said the man died at Srinagar’s Chest Disease (CD) hospital.

Srinagar Mayor Junaid Azim Mattu confirmed the death on Twitter minutes later. “As we share the sad news of our first #Covid19 fatality, my heart goes out to the family of the deceased. We stand with you and share your grief,” he tweeted, reminding people that they need to cooperate to break the chain of the infection.

Before returning to Jammu and Kashmir recently, the religious preacher had extensively travelled in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Samba, Jammu, Srinagar and Sopore to participate in religious events.

Health officials who have been tracing the movements of Jammu and Kashmir’s 11 coronavirus patients have found that 5 of them had attended a religious event where the religious preacher was also present.

Four people, all of them from Bandipore district 30 km north of Srinagar, had tested positive on Wednesday.

Jammu and Kashmir government spokesperson Rohit Kansal said the four had contracted the infection from the 65-year-old.

After the man tested positive two days ago, authorities in Kashmir had placed scores of people including a dozen doctors and paramedics who had examined him earlier, under quarantine. The colony where he stays in Srinagar was also sealed.

Officials haven’t yet revealed how the religious preacher had picked up the infection. There have been contradictory reports that the preacher from a sect that emphasises on converting non-believers had travelled abroad or came in close contact with some people who had travelled abroad.

“He wasn’t very forthcoming… not cooperative,” said a government health department official.

However, family members of the preacher contradicted the claims that they had concealed his travel history and said he didn’t have any international travel.

“On 18th I had a discussion with a senior specialist of SKIMS hospital, his advice was medication and isolation. As my uncle wasn’t improving, we took him to JVC hospital and again revealed the travel history. Then we took him to Covid clinic, I requested them to screen him for Covid-19 which was refused. It was only on 22 March that he was referred to chest disease hospital where he was screened and found to be a positive case,’’ said Zaffar Ahmad his nephew, who is himself a medico.


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