Hundreds of Sikh pilgrims among the 800 who traveled to Pakistan to celebrate Baisakhi tested positive for the coronavirus upon their return, officials said.
Sikh devotees from India went to Gurdwara Panja Sahib in Lahore on the last day of Baisakhi. Officials said 100 of them tested positive after taking a quick antigen test. About 350 were tested for COVID-19 using the rapid antigen method.
Now, some of them who have returned to Amritsar will be tested using the most accurate RT-PCR method, officials said.
The foreign ministry has been in contact with pilgrims to ensure their safety, officials said.
The Pakistani High Commissioner in Delhi had issued visas to over 1,100 Sikh pilgrims for Baisakhi’s journey. Under the Pakistan-India Protocol on Visits to Religious Shrines of 1974, large numbers of pilgrims from India visit Pakistan each year to participate in the festivities.
Punjab has around 38,000 active COVID-19 cases, according to government data. The state was among the first, including Maharashtra and Gujarat, to begin reporting a wave of COVID-19 cases in the past few weeks, before the crisis spread nationwide in what is now called a deadly second wave. .
More and more people this time complain of shortness of breath, which needs oxygen support. However, the oxygen supply has become severely limited due to the sudden increase in demand in cities and towns.
People have gone to social media to coordinate aid, while state governments and the center are also working to organize oxygen faster with the help of the private sector.
Baisakhi is a spring harvest festival for Sikhs and Hindus. It marks the Sikh New Year and commemorates the formation of Khalsa panth (holy warriors) under Guru Gobind Singh in 1699.