After over 90 Sikh pilgrims who visited a Gurudwara in Nanded tested positive for COVID-19 once they went back to Punjab, Nanded district authorities have cordoned off hostels and other places the pilgrims stayed at during their visit.

In March, more than 2,000 Sikh pilgrims, who had come to visit the famous Gurudwara in the district, were stranded when the nationwide lockdown was announced. Every year, nearly 30 lakh pilgrims visit the religious site located near Godavari river. The stranded pilgrims had eventually moved into hostels near the shrine.

Five days ago, the first batch of pilgrims finally left for Punjab in special chartered buses, followed by the rest of the pilgrims. However, alarm bells went off in Punjab when the pilgrims started testing positive for COVID-19 once they reached home. By Thursday evening, over 90 pilgrims had tested positive, with several results still awaited.

Nanded District Collector Dr Vipin Itankar, however, said the pilgrims were screened with thermal guns and were checked for COVID-19 symptoms before they boarded their buses. ‘The pilgrims were in Nanded for the past one-and-a-half months and none of them had shown any symptoms associated with the infection,’ he said.

District authorities said the pilgrims might have picked up the infection on the way as they had passed through hotspot zones like Indore and Bhilwara. One of the drivers of the bus has also tested positive.

Pratap Patil Chiklihar, BJP MP from Nanded, also said the district authorities had taken ample precautions while sending the pilgrims. ‘They were screened before they boarded the bus,’ he said.

Now, the authorities have cordoned off a 1 km-radius area around the hostels where the pilgrims stayed. Check-ups of the sevadars and those who had come in contact with the pilgrims are being done.

Till date, Nanded has reported only three cases, and its first patient was a man who had traveled to Nanded from Hyderabad.

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