Amit Shah tests positive for coronavirus

Union Home Minister Amit Shah tests positive for coronavirus

Union Home Minister Amit Shah file photo (PTI)

Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Sunday tested positive for Covid-19, the first leader in the Narendra Modi cabinet to contract the virus.

The day also saw Uttar Pradesh Minister Kamal Rani Varun, who had earlier tested positive for Covid-19, breathing her last in Lucknow while Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit, senior JD(U) MP RCP Singh, UP BJP President Swantantra Dev Singh and 14 staff of former Bihar Chief Minister Rabri Devi tested positive.

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Shah (54) himself announced on Twitter about being admitted to hospital after the tests returned positive results for the virus infection and appealed to asked people who came in contact with him in the past few days to isolate themselves and get tested. A diabetic, Shah was admitted to Medanta Hospital in Haryana's Gurugram, near Delhi.

"After symptoms of Covid-19 surfaced, I got myself tested. The samples have been tested positive. My health condition is fine. But on the advice of doctors, I am being admitted to a hospital. I request that all who have come in contact with me in the past few days, please isolate yourself and get tests done," he tweeted.

Sources said he showed Covid-19 symptoms in the past 24 hours and samples were taken for testing and the results came on Sunday.

The Home Minister's hospitalisation comes at a time he was scheduled to fly to Ayodhya with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on August 5 for the 'bhumi pujan' for the Ram temple construction. August 5 also marks the first anniversary of the revocation of special status of Jammu and Kashmir.

With Shah in hospital and his meeting Modi on Wednesday have raised speculation about who all will attend the function in Ayodhya.

However, government sources said social distancing norms were strictly followed in the Cabinet meeting, which was chaired by Modi, with all Ministers and officials wearing masks.

They said there is a "strict protocol" at the Prime Minister's residence since the outbreak of the pandemic and the measures taken include frequent temperature checks, use of Aarogya Setu, not using internal cars to ferry people. Physical meetings are avoided to the extent possible and video conferences are preferred instead, they added.

The Ministers who attended the Cabinet meeting are likely to go for Covid-19 tests very soon, sources said.

Shah has been holding both official and political meetings in the past few days. On Wednesday, Shah attended a meeting of the Cabinet while he also received delegation of BJP leaders from West Bengal, including Union Minister Babul Supriyo, last Friday. Supriyo said he is going in for self isolation as advised by doctors.

He attended regular official meetings in his North Bloc office, which were attended by Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla among others. Sources said Bhalla will go in for home isolation and get himself tested.

Shah has also chaired a few Group of Ministers in the past few days besides meeting President Ram Nath Kovind on July 20 for the first time since the national lockdown was imposed to fight the pandemic.

Earlier, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan had tested positive for Covid-19 and is presently under treatment while Delhi Health Minister Satyender Jain recovered from the virus infection after undergoing plasma therapy at a private hospital in the national capital.

In Maharashtra, five ministers and three MLAs had tested positive for Covid-19 while in Tamil Nadu, 21 MLAs and three ministers had contracted the virus infection. In Delhi, three AAP MLAs also recovered from Covid-19.

Soon after Shah’s announcement, 'get well soon' messages poured in with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh saying, "Amitji, your perseverance and willpower has been an example for every challenge. You will definitely win over this big challenge of coronavirus, I believe so. You return healthy as soon as possible, this is my prayer to God."

Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh among others also tweeted their wishes to Shah.