Only in Haryana Can a Hookah Baithak Become a Super-Spreader


Only in Haryana Can a Hookah Baithak Become a Super-Spreader

Illustration: Robin Chakraborty

Reckless behaviour and a disregard for safety precautions has aggravated the coronavirus situation in India. While some people just refuse to wear masks and follow social distancing protocols, others pointlessly feel the need to head out for a daily stroll or that weekend getaway. Religious gatherings have also been a source of infections. In a bizarre incident from Haryana, a “hookah baithak” among friends has turned out to be a “super spreader” of coronavirus, with 24 persons testing positive.

The incident took place in the Shadipur village of Julana block of the district on Sunday. It seems that a villager smoked hookah with his friends that spread the virus. The panchayat has since imposed a ban on the smoking in the village.

A total of 24 people have reportedly got infected with the virus, all being direct contacts of that person. They used to all share a hookah at the shop in the village. The villagers have now set up a committee to check hookah smoking and also started a sanitisation drive. Deputy civil surgeon Pale Ram Kataria said, “Some people who came for sampling from this village, told us that they used to smoke hookah with others.”

The cycle started when a resident of the village who attended a marriage in Gurugram got himself tested and was found positive for Covid-19. Tracing the contacts, the health department officials took samples of the person who used to share a hookah with this person. The first person and the subsequent patients were all shopkeepers who used to smoke hookah together.

“When the Covid-19 cases suddenly increased in the village, we found hookah to be a major source of transmission of the virus. Hookah smoking is a common practice in villages and has to be avoided to check the Covid-19 outbreak,” Jind civil hospital senior medical officer Gopal Goyal told TOI.

A committee will keep track of hookah baithaks in the village. Julana SHO Surender Singh said the police have sealed the containment zone area in 750 metre and no one is allowed to go inside or outside as 24 people have been reported positive within a week.

Jind now has a total of 125 active cases of Covid-19 while 187 have recovered.