Union home minister Amit Shah announced on Sunday that he has tested positive for Covid-19 and was admitted to Medanta hospital in Gurugram on the advice of doctors.
Shah, who is diabetic, was admitted to Gurugram's Medanta-The Medicity around 4:30 on Sunday evening. Ten minutes later, he put out a tweet in Hindi confirming that he was coronavirus positive. The 55-year-old leader said that he was swabbed for the novel virus after he presented initial symptoms.
“My health is fine, but am being admitted to hospital on the advice of doctors. Requests all those who came in contact with me these last few days to self-isolate and get themselves tested,” Amit Shah said.
Staff members associated with Shah told News18 that when he woke up this morning, "he felt low" and so decided to get his Covid test done. "He did not have any severe symptoms. There was no fever, he was not coughing. But he felt low. Since he had attended a public event yesterday he decided to get tested for the virus," a staff member said.
Sources said a team of doctors led by AIIMS director Randeep Guleria is likely to visit Medanta hospital to see Shah.
Officials said the home minister decided to go to Medanta in Gurugram rather than AIIMS in South Delhi, which is just 15 minutes drive from his Krishna Menon Marg residence, because "he didn't wish to cause inconvenience to people".
"AIIMS is a government hospital. Not only Covid, many non-virus patients from all over come there. He thought his presence in AIIMS could have diverted all attention from other patients, the security paraphernalia of the home minister could cause inconvenience to patients, hence the decision to go to Medanta," a staff member said.
The home minister’s request to self-isolate would likely apply to Union ministers who attended last Wednesday’s cabinet meeting and officials from the home ministry, including Union home secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla. Sources said Bhalla has isolated himself and will be tested soon.
Union minister Babul Supriyo has already gone into isolation as he said that he had met Shah on Saturday.
Sources in the PMO said Shah was present in the last cabinet meeting where social distancing was strictly followed and those present wore masks.
Senior ministers in North block confirmed to News18 that initial check up by doctors said that Shah is not showing any severe symptoms.
Home minister was the chief guest at an international webinar at Lokmanya Tilak on Saturday. The event was beamed live on the internet for an international audience but Shah was present in person.
Pictures tweeted by his official handle showed him wearing a mask on his chin. BJP leader Vinay Shasrabudhe was also seen standing behind the home minister. Officials said all those who came in contact with Shah at the event will be isolated and tested.
Union home secretary Ajay Bhalla met Shah to finalise the unlock 3 guidelines, which MHA issued on Wednesday. Senior officers have also attended subsequent meetings by the HM who was actively carrying out his official duties in his North Block and home office.
MoS G Kishan Reddy and Nityanad Rai, however, have not met HM in the last five days. In the absence of the home minister, the two MoS will lead the home ministry and home minister will be available on phone and video conferencing if he continues to be mildly symptomatic, officials said.
The Union government has already put in place a protocol for work for home and making most files available on intranet. Officials said that if MHA secretary, joint secretary level officers are forced to quarantine the SOP will be used to ensure workflow is not affected.
Kashmir abrogation of special status anniversary on August 5 is on the watchlist of MHA since Pakistan-based terror groups are on the lookout for opportunity to strike around that date. Home Minister was also supposed to visit Ayodhya for 'Bhoomi Poojan' on 5th, which could be a virtual affair now.
Shah had attended the Union cabinet meeting on Wednesday. PMO said social distancing measures and other safety protocols were practiced. So far there is no word on any senior cabinet minister who attended the meet or the Prime Minister isolating himself. Shah had also met Bengal BJP leaders two days ago. All of them have been asked to isolate and get tested.
A flurry of wishes poured in for Amit Shah minutes after his tweets with leaders wishing him a speedy recovery.
India recorded 55,000 new Covid-19 cases on Sunday as the total cases crossed the 17 lakh mark. As many as 853 deaths were recorded in the last 24 hours.
Leaders from the opposition, too, extended ‘get well soon’ messages to Amit Shah.
"Wishing Mr Amit Shah a speedy recovery," tweeted Congress leader Rahul Gandhi.
“Heard about the Union Home Minister Shri @AmitShahJi being tested positive for #COVID-19. Wishing him a speedy recovery. My prayers are with him and his family!” West Bengal chief minister and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee said.
Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi tweeted: “Best wishes to #HomeMinister #AmitShah for a quick recovery &restful convalescence. As a #corona recoveree myself, he may also have a non symptomatic and hence a mild case.”
“I pray for the speedy recovery of Hon'ble Home Minister Shri Amit Shah,” tweeted Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.