Coronavirus Outbreak: Five ISKCON devotees in UK dead, 16 others tested positive; more cases likely from 1,000-person gathering before lockdown

Five of the at least 21 International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) devotees in the United Kingdom’s Greater London area, who were hospitalised after exhibiting symptoms of coronavirus, passed away on Tuesday

FP Staff April 08, 2020 09:29:36 IST
Coronavirus Outbreak: Five ISKCON devotees in UK dead, 16 others tested positive; more cases likely from 1,000-person gathering before lockdown

Five of the at least 21 International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) devotees in the United Kingdom’s Greater London area, who were hospitalised after exhibiting symptoms of coronavirus , passed away on Tuesday.

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File image of an ISKCON temple. Image courtesy: ISKCON

One of the deceased is Rameshvara Das, an elderly disciple of Bhakti Charu Swami, while the names of others who passed away were not released by their families, an ISKCON News report said. The Print, however, reported that one of the devotees undergoing treatment is Dhananjaya Das, one of the first to join ISKCON in the UK.

The UK unit of ISKCON has over 15,000 members. It has been alleged that the virus spread among the devotees when 1,000 of them gathered for the funeral of another devotee on 12 March.

Praghosa Das, the chair of ISKCON's Governing Body Commission of UK, said that no restrictions were in place in the United Kingdom at the time and on 15 March, when a memorial meet was held.

He added that all ISKCON temples were shut on 16 March, a week before Johnson announced a lockdown.

“In hindsight, I think we would all agree now that it shouldn’t have gone ahead. But it’s easy to be wise after the event. We didn’t know then what we know now,” Praghosa said.

He admitted that while 21 confirmed cases from the religious collective have been reported so far, it is suspected that over 100 devotees could be possibly infected in the UK.

“Please do not be harsh on the devotees in the UK yatra. They didn’t deliberately do something they shouldn’t have done. They thought they were following everything they had to follow. So please wish them the best, pray for them,” he added.

The UK has reported 6,519 coronavirus deaths up till Wednesday and the number of confirmed cases stands at 55,242. Prime Minister Boris Johnson was recently shifted to intensive care after the symptoms he was exhibiting showed no signs of improvement. Prince Charles was also tested positive for COVID-19 .

The infections within UK’s ISKCON community is similar to the Tablighi Jamaat event held in Delhi’s Nizamuddin, which was attended by around 1,800 people. At least 1,445 people who attended the meet were tested positive for coronavirus .

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