Punjab blames Maharashtra for Covid positive pilgrims, latter says it’s ‘not our fault’ | India News

CHANDIGARH/MUMBAI/AURANGABAD: The complexities involved in evacuating thousands of migrants across state borders are beginning to sink in.
Maharashtra on Friday sealed areas around Nanded’s Takht Hazoor Sahib after Punjab saw a huge spike in cases with 215 pilgrims, who had visited the shrine, testing positive on their return. The gurdwaras in the complex remain open. A Maharashtra official said, “We are examining the residents around the gurdwara. We expect the results will available on Saturday,” he said.
The Punjab government, however, is unhappy that pilgrims who returned were not tested in Maharashtra and were just screened before they set out on their journey. Punjab health minister Balbir Singh Sidhu on Thursday shot off a letter to Maharashtra expressing displeasure on this count.
Sidhu, in the letter, lodged a protest that the Maharashtra health authority had not conducted tests of Punjab residents who had been stuck there for about 40 days.
“Had they informed us about this, we would have taken our medical team there to conduct their tests before bringing them back,” said Sidhu. The Punjab government is testing every person, irrespective of the state they belong to, he further said.
Maharashtra has countered the charge saying, “Each and every pilgrim was medically examined before boarding, all of them were asymptomatic. However, when they reached Punjab, many tested positive. It appears that they caught the infection en route to Punjab, since their vehicles passed though some of the hot spots in Madhya Pradesh, particularly Indore and Khargone,” the official said. About 4,000 Punjab pilgrims were stranded in Nanded due to the lockdown and were accommodated in Sachkhand Saheb and Langar Saheb Gurdwaras.
The Maharashtra official said nearly 300 pilgrims had also clandestinely left for Punjab in private buses from Nanded.

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