Alarm bells: Wedding turns into a superspreading event
Sixteen people who attended the event at Shivamogga infected; experts say the next surge depends on how responsibly people behave now
In what is probably the first known superspreading event in Karnataka after the lockdown was lifted, 16 persons, including four from Bengaluru, who attended a wedding in Shivamogga on June 27-28, have contracted COVID-19.
One of them, a 61-year-old resident of BTM Layout, is critical while his wife and daughter have also been hospitalised. Although only the 61-year-old father and his 18-year-old daughter attended the wedding, they spread the infection to two others in the family (wife and son) after returning to Bengaluru on July 1.
Ameen e Mudassar, member of Emergency Response Team, a volunteer group that offers free services to people in getting tested and finding beds, who got the patients admitted late on Wednesday night, told The Hindu that the father is in the ICU at Jayanagar General Hospital as his oxygen saturation had dropped to 88. He added that husband and wife received one dose of Covishield vaccine last fortnight.
“Apparently, apart from these four, 12 others of the same group, who attended the wedding, have also been infected, and are being treated in Shivamogga. It is unfortunate that people have let their guard down soon after unlocking began,” Mr. Mudassar said.
Shivamogga District Health Officer Rajesh Suragihalli said the wedding hall may be a common point from where the infection could have spread. “We have not reported any cluster in the last two weeks. This could be because the infected persons may be residing in different localities,” he said. He said it is difficult to monitor mask wearing and social distancing in closed spaces such as wedding halls. “As per the recent unlock guidelines, not more than 100 persons can attend a wedding. We will further step up surveillance now,” he said.
V. Ravi, member of the State’s COVID-19 Technical Advisory Committee and nodal officer for genomic confirmation of SARS-CoV-2 in Karnataka, said all the contacts of the infected members should be traced, tested and treated at the earliest. “This looks like a cluster and some samples should be sent for genome sequencing,” he said.
Pointing out that crowding, especially in closed spaces, can fuel a fresh surge, Dr. Ravi said, “People should continue to follow COVID-19 appropriate behaviour irrespective of restrictions. The next surge depends on how responsibly people will behave now.”
C.N. Manjunath, nodal officer for labs and testing in the State’s COVID-19 task force, said with the wedding season approaching it is essential for local authorities to be more vigilant.