Three of six people allowed to accompany the body of a deceased family member from Mumbai to Karnataka's Mandya have tested positive for COVID-19, the district administration said today. Mandya officials blamed their Mumbai counterparts for allowing people to travel from a coronavirus hotspot - Mumbai is the worst-affected city in the country with over 7,000 cases - without first testing them.
"It is a lapse on the part of Mumbai administration. Why did they give six people from a containment zone permission to accompany the body without testing their samples?" Dr MV Venkatesh, Mandya Deputy Commissioner, said.
Of those who tested positive, three are close relatives. The wife of the dead man tested negative. It is believed the son, who works for ICICI Bank, was the first to contract the virus, which then spread to the others.
All six people, as well as their primary contacts, have been quarantined.
The body of the 56-year-old man, an auto rickshaw driver who died at Desai Hospital from non-coronavirus-related cardiac arrest, was brought to Mandya on April 24. Six relatives were permitted to travel in the ambulance that brought his body.
In an apparently clear violation of social distancing protocols, on the way to Mandya they also picked up two hitchhikers - a woman and her son. The woman has tested positive for coronavirus as well.
Earlier there were 10 active coronavirus cases in Mandya district. With those confirmed today there are now 14.
However, the Mandya administration's claim has been rejected by former Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy, who alleged the lapse had been on the district's part.
Across Karnataka, which has recorded over 570 coronavirus case and 22 deaths so far, the centre has listed three districts as "red zones", or areas where the number of coronavirus cases doubles in under four days.
These areas include state capital Bengaluru (urban and rural). Bengaluru Urban has the highest number of cases in the state.
There are also 13 "orange zones" and 14 "green zones".
Lockdown relaxation has been allowed in "green zones" in the state, meaning shops in residential areas and some industrial activities have been permitted.
This is in line with central guidelines on relaxation of lockdown, with more such measures expected after the end of the lockdown period on May 3.