BHIWANI: Over 30 people have died in Union minister V K Singh's ancestral village Bapora in the past two weeks, its sarpanch said Sunday as the unusually high number of deaths raised concerns that COVID-19 could be the cause.
Village head Naresh Kumar said many of these people had showed symptoms of the disease, but only three tested positive.
"They had symptoms like fever and cough but did not get themselves tested. So the real cause behind their deaths remains unknown," he said.
He said many of them were elderly.
District authorities have stationed an ambulance in the village in Bhiwani district and have screened all residents for the disease, an official said.
According to the sarpanch, the village with a population of about 20,000 normally sees "one or two deaths" in a week.
But there were many more during the past fortnight.
One day, there were seven or eight deaths in the village, he said, and all cremation spots were occupied.
"This was frightening for the villagers," he said.
He said many villagers had been reluctant to undergo the coronavirus test.
Health department officials have now stepped up testing and screening in Bapora to check the spread of the infection, he said.
"Random tests of over 150 people were conducted during the past couple of days and only one was found positive," he said.
He said the state government has also been holding vaccination camps and a recent one saw a good response from the villagers.
Bapora is not the only village to have reported an unusually high number of deaths due to suspected cases of COVID-19.
Last month, 21 people died in Rohtak's Titoli village, but officials said only four of these deaths were confirmed to be due to coronavirus.
There had also been reports of nearly 40 deaths in Mundhal Khurd and Mundhal Kalan villages in Bhiwani in recent weeks.
Naresh Kumar said Bapora is known as the village of faujis (soldiers) and happens to be the native village of Union minister and retired Army chief V K Singh.
Bhiwani Deputy Commissioner Jaibir Singh Arya said all Bapora residents have been screened for the disease.
"We have set up an isolation centre in the village and also stationed an ambulance for emergency use. Vaccination centres have also been set up here," the official, who visited the area on Sunday, told PTI.
"The entire village has been sanitised," he added.
Reacting to reports of the virus spreading in the villages, the opposition has demanded that COVID-19 testing in rural areas should be stepped up.
Former Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda has asked the government to set up a task force to deal with the pandemic in rural areas.