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156 Monks Test Positive for COVID-19 at Buddhist Monastery in Northern India

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Gyuto Tantric Monastery. From facebook.com
Gyuto Tantric Monastery. From facebook.com

More than 150 Buddhist monks at Gyuto Tantric Monastery in the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh have tested positive for COVID-19, local media reports indicated on Tuesday. A total of 156 confirmed cases have so far been diagnosed among monastics at Gyuto Monastery in the Sidhbari suburb of Dharamsala after the latest round of testing, the reports said, adding that the area has been sealed off as a containment zone until further notice.

“Around 100 Buddhist monks from Gyuto Monastery in Dharamsala have tested positive for COVID-19 today [Monday],” said Kangra District Chief Medical Officer Dr. Gurdarshan Gupta. “Total, 156 monks have tested positive in the monastery. This locality has been declared as a containment zone.” (India TV)

Gyuto Tantric Monastery is an important center for monastic education in the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism, and his home to monks from Ladakh, Sikkim, and Spiti, as well as Tibet and Mongolia. As of Tuesday, 330 monks at the monastery had been tested after the cluster was first detected last week with 20 initial infections. 

Dr. Gupta said that there are currently some 400 resident monks at Gyuto Monastery. Three monks who had earlier reported experiencing symptoms were moved to a dedicated COVID-19 hospital at Dr. Rajendra Prasad Medical College.

“Following initial cases on 23 February, 330 monks tested so far for COVID-19 . . .,” Dr. Gupta noted. “One monk in critical condition [was] shifted to Tanda Medical College, others [are] in isolation in the monastery itself. Monks who have been home-isolated had traveled from Karnataka and New Delhi during new year celebrations.” (The Times of India)

Most of the infected monks are reported to be asymptomatic. Those with no travel history were being quarantined within the monastery compound.

“About 15 monks came from Karnataka and Delhi. First cases were reported on 23 February,” said Kangra District official Rakesh Prajapati, adding that all residents of the monastery above the age of 60 would soon be vaccinated. (Outlook India)

“Surprisingly, all persons coming from outside [the area] have tested negative. Only one patient in moderate category was shifted to Tanda Medical College Hospital. The rest are being managed in home isolation at the monastery,” Prajapati was quoted as saying.  (Outlook India)

At the time of writing on 3 March, India had reported 11.14 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 157,346 related deaths, with 10.81 million people reported to have recovered. Globally, total cases have exceeded 114.7 million, with 2.55 million related deaths recorded and 64.9 million recovered.*

Although vaccines are already being rolled out across India, experts have observed that reaching all of Ithe nation’s 1.3 billion people may take months if not years. The authorities began the second phase of India’s vaccination drive on Monday this week, allowing anyone above the age of 60 and those older than 45 with medical conditions that may make them more vulnerable to the SARS-CoV-2 novel coronavirus to receive vaccines from state and private hospitals.

COVID-19 Dashboard by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University (JHU)

See more

Gyuto Tantric Monastery
Gyuto Monastery (Facebook)
156 cases of Covid-19 discovered from Gyuto monastery (Phalyul)
100 Buddhist monks found COVID-19 positive at Dharamshala monastery, entire locality declared containment zone (India TV)
Over 150 Monks Test Covid Positive In Himachal Pradesh, Monastery Declared Containment Zone (NDTV)
Over 150 monks test COVID positive at Himachal Pradesh monastery (The Times of India)
63 Fresh Cases Spark Covid Scare In Himachal Pradesh (Outlook India)

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