Amid the significant increase in coronavirus cases in the UK, the ISKCON community in the country has reported at least five deaths and 21 confirmed cases among those who attended a temple funeral on March 12, weeks before Prime Minister Boris Johnson to impose an emergency shutdown.
At least 1,000 devotees had gathered for the funeral at the temple of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) in Soho, London.
Several are reportedly in critical condition.
According to Praghosa, chairman of the UK Governing Body Commission, there were no restrictions in place in the country when the temple meeting occurred.
ISKCON closed all its temples in the UK on March 16, a week before Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a closure.
“In hindsight, I think we would all agree now that he shouldn’t have moved on. But it’s easy to be wise after the event. We didn’t know what we know now,” Praghosa said.
While 21 confirmed cases of ISKCON have been reported so far, people on social media claim that Covid-19 could infect more than 100 devotees in the UK.
Even Praghosa admitted that there are likely to be more Covid-19 cases among devotees, aside from the 21 reported.
However, ISKON UK has said: “Please don’t be harsh on devotees in the UK yatra. They did not deliberately do something they should not have done. They thought they were following everything they had to follow. So please they wish the best, pray for them. “
ISKON also clarifies that when the funeral was held, the UK was not under closure. Prime Minister Boris Johnson declared the close on March 23.
ISKON goes on to say: “Although other countries such as Italy, Spain and France had such restrictions at the time, the United Kingdom did not,” he added, “the administration was irresponsible.”