A 70-year-old man, who last week became the first to die of Covid-19 in Punjab, is believed to have been the source of infection for 23 of the total 33 patients in the state, NDTV reported on Friday. He had reportedly met nearly 100 people after he returned from a trip to Europe earlier this month.

The man, a gurdwara priest in the state’s SBS Nagar district, had travelled to Italy – the country that has reported the most Covid-19 deaths – and Germany with two others and had returned on March 6. The three men reportedly defied self-quarantine rules and moved freely in several villages, meeting hundreds of people. The man was found to be infected with Covid-19 after his death.

The Punjab government has sealed 15 villages in the district in an attempt to prevent the infection from spreading.

According to The Tribune, the man infected 18 family members, including his three sons, a daughter, daughter-in-law and grandchildren. His family members are also believed to have met several people.

The man and his two friends are believed to have spread the infection to Mohali, Amritsar, Hoshiarpur and Jalandhar. Officials are now trying to locate all the people that the three men came contact with.

Punjab has been on high alert since the return of 90,000 non-resident Indians has sparked fears that the coronavirus could spread at an alarming rate in the state. NRIs from Punjab have clusters in Italy, United States, Canada, United Kingdom and Spain, the countries worst hit by the outbreak. The state has 33 coronavirus cases, according to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

Seventeen people in India have died due to Covid-19, the disease caused by coronavirus, the Union Health Ministry confirmed on Friday. There are 724 confirmed cases in the country, of which 640 are active. India went under a 21-day lockdown from Wednesday, the longest among countries hit by the pandemic.