Journalist who attended Kamal Nath’s press meet tests COVID-19 positive

Several journalists, govt. officials go into quarantine as he visited Vidhan Sabha and the Raj Bhavan too

Updated - March 25, 2020 11:09 pm IST

Published - March 25, 2020 05:34 pm IST - Bhopal

Former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath at the press conference where he announced his resignation.

Former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath at the press conference where he announced his resignation.

Panic gripped officials and journalists in Bhopal on Wednesday as a senior journalist, who had attended a press conference of former Chief Minister Kamal Nath and visited the Vidhan Sabha and the Raj Bhavan, tested positive for COVID-19.

The journalist is the father of the woman, who was the first case in the city to test positive on March 22 after returning from London. He is the 15th positive case in the State.

As the news of the test result trickled in, several government Public Relations department (PRD) officials and journalists went into quarantine. Many journalists who had come in direct/indirect contact with the person demanded the government test them immediately. They prepared a list of those present at the press conference.

A journalist, who sat next to the infected person at the press conference, approached the administration to get tested but was refused as he was asymptomatic. “There are about 50 journalists who want to get tested,” he said.

“All the persons who came in contact with the infected person must immediately go into quarantine. We will issue an advisory soon,” Tarun Kumar Pithode, Bhopal district Collector, told The Hindu .

Chief medical and health officer (CMHO) Sudhir Dehariya said, “Every person who came in contact with him should go in home isolation at least for 14 days.” He said only the woman’s father of the 10 persons who had come in immediate contact with her had tested positive.

P. Narahari, Secretary, Public Relations Department, also asked the journalists who attended the press conference to immediately self-quarantine themselves and keep a safe distance from family members. “As per the health department, any check-up can be done only in case of symptoms relating to the virus,” he said.

Saying he had gone into quarantine, Vidhan Sabha Principal Secretary A.P. Singh requested Assembly officials to do the same and seek medical help if required.

The infected journalist’s brother is a State Congress spokesman.

On March 20, the day the Congress government was to take the Supreme Court-directed floor test, Mr. Kamal Nath called a press conference at his official residence at noon and announced his resignation.

More than 200 journalists, including locals and from other cities, several Congress MLAs and leaders, Cabinet Ministers and Mr. Nath were present at the open-air meeting hall.

Many PRD officials, who shook hands with the journalist, later distributed the press release to journalists. The person then went to the Raj Bhavan where Mr. Nath submitted his resignation to Governor Lalji Tandon. He later went to the Vidhan Sabha where the BJP MLAs had reached to attend the session scheduled for 2 p.m., which was postponed in light of Mr. Nath’s resignation. Later that night, he reportedly took part in a TV debate.

On March 18, the day his daughter reached Bhopal, the journalist visited the State BJP office too. Her brother, who accompanied her from New Delhi to Bhopal, tested negative.

Mr. Nath’s media coordinator Narendra Saluja said the former Chief Minister was taking all precautions. “He is following all instructions for protection from the disease. But the news of his going into isolation is false. He is meeting people as well as working in his office,” he said.

“No one knows who all came in contact with him,” said a local journalist. “Let’s remember, covering corona is not about courage. Your life is important for your family.”

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