Top politicians in self quarantine after partying with Covid-19 positive Bollywood singer
Bollywood singer Kanika Kapoor testing positive for novel coronavirus on Friday led to an official lockdown in several areas of the capital and forced several top politicians, including the UP health minister Jai Pratap Singh, former Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje, her son and BJP MP Dushyanat Singh, BJP MLA Pankaj Singh, TMC MP Derek O’Brien, Apna Dal MP Anupriya Patel and the Congress leader Jitin Prasada, into self-quarantine.
The day began in Lucknow with four persons, including Kanika Kapoor, testing positive for the virus. Soon after it turned out that she had attended three parties -- on March 13, 14, and 15 -- since she arrived in Lucknow on March 11 from London via Mumbai, her father Rajiv Kapoor said.
Within hours, the district administration ordered the closure of all offices in several areas of the city, including parts of Mahanagar, Indira Nagar, Khurram Nagar, Aliganj and Gudamba till March 23. Kanika’s apartment building – Shalimar Gallant -- is located in Mahanagar.
Later on district magistrate Abhishek Prakash ordered all food joints, restaurants, dhabas and cafes in Lucknow to close shop till March 31. In the night, Abhishek Prakash also ordered a temporary closure of Taj Hotel as Kanika had briefly stayed there.
Kanika had returned from London to Mumbai on March 9 and came to Lucknow on March 11 to her home in the apartment building here.
A senior police officer confirmed that Kanika attended back-to-back parties from March 13 to 15, stayed at the top hotel from March 14 to 16 and then returned to her apartment building.
The health department quickly prepared a list of people who had attended the parties, including the minister, bureaucrats, police officers and industrialists.
“We have a primary list of 23 people who came in close contact with her. It may be expanded further,” said director general, medical health, Dr Rukesh Singh. But he did not share the list.
“We are first tracking those who came in direct contact with Kanika. If any of those (the direct contacts) test positive, we will also track their close contacts,” said Yogesh Raghuvanshi, spokesperson of the district health department.
Lucknow police commissioner Sujeet Pandey confirmed that the singer attended three parties, including a Holi get-together.
Teams from epidemic cell of the health department visited her apartment building from where she was taken to the quarantine facility at Sanjay Gandhi Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences (SGPGIMS), Lucknow.
The department also screened all people living there. They took a list of all those people present at the functions/gatherings and also took photographs and videos made during the gatherings to identify all those present.
Kanika’s visits included a skin clinic in Hazratganj also. Details of procedures and a list of all patients who visited the clinic after her visit are also being submitted to the health department.
Also on Friday, KGMU tested 70 samples of which four, including that of Kanika, tested positive and the remaining were negative, said Dr Sudhir Singh, spokesperson of KGMU.
Kanika also visited Kanpur on March 14. The building in which a house warming party attended by the singer had been organised has been locked and sanitised, said district magistrate, Kanpur, Brahmdev Ram Tiwari. She visited her uncle Vipul Tandon’s family in Vishnupuri for the house warming. More than 20 persons attended the party, said one relative not willing to be identified.
As the news spread, the district magistrate sent a medical team to the apartment. He said the singer stayed for more than four hours and then returned to Lucknow. Apart from the building being locked down, the family has been moved into isolation and details of others who attended the party was being gathered.
Here’s what sent many politician into a tizzy:
On March 15, from 7 pm to 1 am, two parties were organised -- one at former BSP MP Akbar Ahmed Dumpy’s Gokhle Marg residence and at another party in Cantonment, said a person in the know of things.
Kanika attended Dumpy’s party, which had lot of attendees who also attended the second party at BJP MP’s place. UP health minister Jai Pratap Singh, Vasundhara Raje, her son Dushyant Singh were all present at Dumpy’s party. Dushyant attended the Parliament for at least two days after the party.
After the news of her testing positive, Vasundhara Raje tweeted that she and Dushyant have gone into self-quarantine.
After Vasundhara’s tweet, two MPs -- Derek O’Brien, who had sat next to Dushyant in Parliament on March 18 and Apna Dal MP Anupriya Patel, who was at another event with Dushyant, tweeted that they had placed themselves into self-quarantine.
Dushyant also attended the lunch hosted at the Rashtrapati Bhawan for MPs from UP and Rajasthan. President Ramnath Kovind and the defence minister were at the lunch.
A UP government spokesperson confirmed that the health minister Jai Pratap Singh has gone into self-quarantine. The spokesperson added that though the minister was feeling absolutely normal, his samples have been collected for tests.
Jai Pratap Singh’s presence at the party has rung the alarm bells in the Yogi Adityanath government as Singh had attended the UP cabinet meeting with Yogi Adityanath, on March 17.
The next day Singh had a lot of intermingling with Yogi Adityanath along with his two deputies Dinesh Sharma and Keshav Prasad Maurya.
Congress leader Jitin Prasada, who was also present at one of the parties, has also gone into self-isolation.
How is health department tracking people?
First, the ones who were in direct contact with the singer will be screened and put under home quarantine, even if they do not have symptoms. Samples of those with symptoms will be tested for corona virus.
If any one of the secondary contacts shows symptoms of coronavirus they will also be screened and their samples tested. The department will keep on expanding the list unless it is ensured that no one is left carrying the virus and this will take up to 28 days of tracking.