Coronavirus has hit India’s top political circles, courtesy India’s celebrity version of ‘Patient 31’ (who is believed to be the cause of eighty per cent of South Korea’s confirmed Coronavirus cases), Bollywood singer Kanika Kapoor. The ‘Baby Doll’ fame returned to India on March 15, from London and tested positive for COVID-19. She then headed to Lucknow on a family visit, bypassing all procedural requirements of mandatory 14-day quarantine for passengers travelling from Coronavirus-hit countries. Now, she has tested positive for COVID-19.
What has triggered panic is Kanika Kapoor’s high profile party in Lucknow on March 15 hosted by Ex-BSP MP Akbar Ahmed Dumpy. The party was also attended by Vasundhara Raje, her son and BJP MP Dushyant Singh, Jitin Prasada and UP Health Minister Jai Pratap Singh.
The chain has extended to top ministers and political leaders in UP and Delhi. Dushyant Singh met the President of India Ram Nath Kovind, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Union Minister Smriti Irani. In Parliament, he sits next to Varun Gandhi, Derek O’Brien and Deependra Hooda sparking a major Coronavirus scare among the Parliamentarians as six MPs went into self-quarantine on Friday.
On the other hand, Jau Pratap Singh attended an Uttar Pradesh Cabinet meet headed by CM Yogi and also attended by Deputy Chief Ministers Keshav Maurya and Dinesh Sharma. Kanika Sharma’s misadventure has therefore engulfed the Union Cabinet, parliamentarians and the Uttar Pradesh cabinet into a major Coronavirus scare.
Meanwhile, Civil Aviation Ministry has tweeted, “Officers of the Ministry of Civil Aviation who attended the Parliamentary Standing Committee meeting on 18/3/20 and came in close proximity with referred Hon’ble Member of Parliament (Dushyant Singh) have gone into self-quarantine from Friday evening as a precautionary measure.” During the Parliamentary meeting, Singh had also met the Railway Board chairman and Tourism Ministry officials.
Officers of the Ministry of Civil Aviation who attended the Parliamentary Standing Committee meeting on 18/3/20 and came in close proximity with referred Hon’ble Member of Parliament have gone into self quarantine from Friday evening as a precautionary measure.
— Ministry of Civil Aviation (@MoCA_GoI) March 20, 2020
The Kanika Kapoor chain really exposes the long incubation periods associated with the Wuhan virus, which make diagnosis and treatment that much more difficult. The case in point being the second Coronavirus patient in Bhutan, who is the female partner of the first case- a US national.
Interestingly, she had met the US tourist long before the 14-day quarantine. During her quarantine, she tested negative three rimes and tested positive on the last day of her quarantine. This reinforces the need of social distancing and responsible conduct by foreign tourists. Incubation periods are long and symptoms slow to pick up, but asymptomatic Coronavirus patients do spread the virus further aggravating the public health emergency.
In China, a Wuhan woman had tested negative and yet infected five patients. This is the real cause of concern because when asymptomatic patients coming from abroad, with long incubation periods escape quarantines their chain goes really deep. Kanika Kapoor’s case is exactly a part of this worrying phenomenon- a reckless foreign traveller escaping quarantine and screening procedure, and then triggering a major Coronavirus crisis in the country’s top political echelons.