Karnataka's octogenarian shepherd Kamegowda, whom Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently praised for digging 16 ponds around his village to conserve water in Mandya district, has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, his son Krishna said on Wednesday.
"As my 85-year-old father (Kamegowda) is an asthma patient and was having breathing problems, he was admitted to the state-run hospital in Mandya on Tuesday where his swab sample tested positive [for coronavirus]," Krishna told IANS over phone.
Kamegowda's village, Dasanadoddi, is 27 km from Mandya and 120 km southwest of Bengaluru.
"The district officials sent an ambulance to our home on Monday night and took my father and admitted him to the district hospital. As coronavirus test is mandatory for all patients, especially the elderly, his swab sample was taken on Tuesday and its result returned positive," Krishna said.
Kamegowda's family, including his two sons and daughters-in-law, have also given their swab samples for testing.
"We are under home quarantine awaiting our test results. As my father is asymptomatic and responding to the treatment, we hope and pray to god that he recovers soon," said Krishna.
Mandya Deputy Commissioner MV Venkatesh also told reporters that Kamegowda was asymptomatic and was responding well to the treatment.
Meanwhile, the district healthcare personnel are doing contact tracing to isolate and quarantine people besides Kamegowda's family members.
In his monthly radio programme "Mann Ki Baat" on June 28, Prime Minister Modi had said that with the onset of southwest monsoon in many parts of the country, people should practice rain-water harvesting to protect the environment, just like Kamegowda was doing in Karnataka even though he was over 80 years old.
"Kamegowda has dug 16 ponds through his hard work. He is a simple farmer, but his personality is extraordinary. The work done by him sets him apart from the others. At his age, Kamegowda takes cattle for grazing and has dug ponds in his village. When asked about his feat, he said as there was water shortage in his area, he was digging more ponds to conserve water for the people," Modi had said.
Though the ponds dug by Kamegowda may not be big, his efforts were huge, Modi said.
"Kamegowda is an inspiration for the people in the country, as he has been forming water bodies for over four decades, which have turned the Kundinibetta hillock green, providing water for drinking and farming," an official had said then.
The state government had honoured Kamegowda with the Rajyotsava award in 2019 in recognition of his yeomen community service.