Bollywood’s Bachchan family hit by coronavirus; Aishwarya joins Amitabh

MUMBAI: Three generations of Bollywood’s Bachchan family were hit by the coronavirus as former Miss World Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and her daughter on Sunday joined her father-in-law Amitabh and husband Abhishek in testing positive for the virus that causes COVID-19.

Maharashtra state health minister Rajesh Tope said in a tweet that Aishwarya and her eight-year-old daughter had tested positive for the virus.

It was not clear whether they had been admitted to hospital, as Amitabh, a legendary Indian actor, and Abhishek were on Saturday, when they said they had mild symptoms of COVID-19.

Hospital officials and government health authorities said earlier on Sunday that Amitabh and his son were in stable condition.

People in northern and western India were conducting Hindu prayer rituals for the Bachchan family, social media and television footage showed.

Amitabh, 77, was badly hurt in an action scene at movie set in 1982, an incident that triggered tremendous support and love for him across the nation as people prayed for his recovery. At the time one fan was said to have walked backwards from southern Hyderabad city to Mumbai in his honour.

Since then, Amitabh has been operated on several times.

Aishwarya, 46, who often features on “most beautiful” lists, has worked in several Bollywood and Hollywood films. She is a brand ambassador for several multinational companies, including L’Oreal.

Amitabh’s wife Jaya, also an actor, has tested negative, said the health minister. Amitabh, a revered celebrity who endorses dozens of Indian and global brands, has a net worth estimated to be over $100 million, trade analysts say.

The minister later deleted his tweet, but another government official confirmed to Reuters the information was accurate. A spokeswoman for Aishwarya declined comment.

Top bureaucrats and ministers have been asked to show restrain on tweeting regarding the Bollywood star family, an official in the prime minister’s office told Reuters.

India on Sunday registered a record increase in the number of coronavirus cases, taking the total number of affected people in the country to nearly 850,000, the world’s third-highest, and prompting authorities to re-impose partial lockdowns in some densely populated areas.

Federal health ministry data showed that more than 27,100 new cases were reported in the previous 24 hours, while the death toll increased to 22,674, after 551 people succumbed in a day.

Amitabh said in a tweet on Saturday night that he had tested positive for the infectious virus. Within minutes, Abhishek, 44, tweeted that he had also tested positive.

Father and son were moved to the Nanavati Hospital in Mumbai despite showing only mild symptoms and the father-son duo appealed to their millions of fans to stay calm.

Authorities launched a massive sanitising drill at Bachchan’s upscale residence in Mumbai, spraying disinfectant in the large compound and on cars parked outside.

Amitabh has been a prominent figure in the fight against the coronavirus, appearing in public service advertisements where, in his trademark baritone, he urges people to wear masks, wash hands frequently and maintain social distance.

India’s film industry recently resumed film shoots after a months-long hiatus following the imposition of a nationwide lockdown in late March.

But actors over 65, such as Amitabh, are banned from the sets because of their vulnerability to the virus. — Reuters

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