Coronavirus Outbreak at Wedding Kills Groom, Infects Over 100 Guests

As coronavirus cases in India approach nearly 585,500, a wedding in India that hosted hundreds of guests has become a super-spreader of infection, with 113 people reported to have tested positive since the ceremony last month.

The groom, who was not tested for the virus, was reported to have had a high fever in the lead up to the wedding, which took place in the Paliganj subdivision of the Patna district in the Bihar state of eastern India.

The groom died on June 17, two days after the ceremony, while on his way to a hospital after his condition deteriorated. A sample could not be taken from the groom for testing after his death because his body was cremated.

More than 360 people from Paliganj and the adjacent towns of Naubatpur and Bihta, to which members of the bride's family belong, were tested as part of the contact-tracing process, which is ongoing, local officials confirmed. The bride did not test positive, The Indian Express reported.

The 30-year-old groom, who was an engineer based in Gurgaon, just south of New Delhi in northern India, was reported to have been ill before the wedding.

"Even though he was feeling unwell by June 14 and wanted the wedding deferred, family heads from both sides advised against it, citing huge financial losses if the arrangements had to be cancelled," a relative of the groom told The Express.

Before the wedding, he was reportedly treated at a Patna hospital for diarrhea, which is one of the symptoms of the novel coronavirus.

On June 15, the day of the wedding, the groom had a high temperature but his family reportedly forced him to take medication and continue the wedding rituals, India's New Delhi Television Limited (NDTV) reported.

On June 17, his condition got significantly worse and he died while being rushed to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) hospital in Patna, India's Outlook magazine reported.

After the groom's family had his body cremated, local authorities were notified of the incident by a person who phoned the district magistrate and relayed the series of events that took place, Outlook reported.

All close relatives of the groom who attended the wedding were tested on June 19 and 15 of them tested positive, officials confirmed.

From June 24 to 26, a special camp was set up in the village where the wedding took place to collect test samples from the nearly 400 who attended either the wedding or the funeral as well as to isolate potential cases.

Of the 364 samples collected, 86 were positive and all of the infected individuals have since been isolated, NDTV reported.

Those who tested positive, most of whom were said to be asymptomatic, were admitted to isolation centers in Bihta and Phulwari Sharif area of Patna. The Paliganj subdivision has been sealed and declared a containment zone, The Express reported.

The district magistrate has launched an investigation into more than 50 people who were said to have attended the wedding in violation of virus restrictions. Weddings cannot have more than 50 guests, while funerals are limited to 20 guests, according to the government's directives, NDTV reported.

Bangalore India wedding Hindu June 2020
A traditional Hindu wedding taking place in Bangalore, India amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, pictured on June 3, 2020. Getty Images

The latest cluster of new cases is reportedly the largest chain of infections seen in the state of Bihar to date. Bihar has seen 9,744 confirmed cases so far, including 62 COVID-19-related deaths, NDTV reported.

The Patna district is Bihar's worst-affected region, with 699 confirmed cases and five casualties, according to figures reported by the local administration.

The daily case count in India, home to over 1.3 billion people, has been on a mostly increasing trend throughout the outbreak. The country saw a record 191,700 new infections on June 26, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

On Tuesday, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said: "In comparison to other countries, India is still in a very stable situation, in the battle against COVID-19," in a televised address.

He also noted that "there has been a negligence by people in their social and personal behavior," NDTV reported. "That is a sign of worry. This is a serious matter, and we must ensure that we maintain the discipline."

The novel coronavirus, first reported in Wuhan, China, has spread to more than 10.5 million people across the globe. Over 5.3 million globally have reportedly recovered from infection, while over 512,100 have died, as of Wednesday, according to the latest figures from Johns Hopkins University.

The graphics below, provided by Statista, illustrate the spread of COVID-19 in the U.S.

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The graphic below, provided by Statista, illustrates the seven-day rolling average of new COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and European Union.

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A graph comparing newly confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and Europe. Statista