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CORONAVIRUS

Amitabh Bachchan: Bollywood star hospitalised with Covid-19

Although he lives a healthy lifestyle, the 77-year-old has a history of health issues

Amitabh Bachchan's most recent film was Gulabo Sitabo which had to be released on Amazon Prime because of the coronavirus restrictions. Reuters
Amitabh Bachchan's most recent film was Gulabo Sitabo which had to be released on Amazon Prime because of the coronavirus restrictions. Reuters

Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan, 77, has tested positive for the novel coronavirus and was admitted to hospital on Saturday in his hometown of Mumbai.

"I have tested Covid positive ... shifted to Hospital," Bachchan wrote on his Twitter, saying his family and staff had already been tested and were awaiting their results.

His son Abhishek has also tested positive for Covid-19. "All that have been in close proximity to me in the last 10 days are requested to please get themselves tested!" he added.

Update: Aishwarya Rai also tests positive

Known has "Big B", Bachchan rose to fame in the early 1970s on the back of roles in huge hit movies such as Zanjeer and Sholay.

Active in the film industry since 1969, he has worked on more than 200 movies. His films still open to packed cinemas across India, but his new movie – comedy-drama Gulabo Sitabo – was released on Amazon's streaming service due to the coronavirus restrictions.

Bachchan is an active Twitter user, where he has 43 million followers, and his career has branched into television presenting, business and politics, as well as countless commercial endorsements.

Bachchan, who has won multiple awards for his acting and has been hosting Kaun Banega Crorepati, India's version of 'Who Wants to be a Millionaire' – one of the most watched shows on Indian television for 20 years.

Although the actor lives a healthy lifestyle, he has a history of health issues. He suffered a near-fatal injury during the shooting of an action scene on a film set in 1982 and was critically ill for several months. Thousands gathered outside the hospital and offered prayers daily.

The accident led to the actor contracting the Hepatitis B virus after blood transfusion from a donor who was carrying it unknowingly. Reports say his liver lost 75 per cent of its function last year due to cirrhosis caused by the virus.

The film industry around Bollywood only recently opened for work after a months-long hiatus following the imposition of a nationwide lockdown in India in late March. But actors that are over 65 – who are often most vulnerable to the virus – such as Bachchan, have been told to stay off the sets amid the pandemic.

India is one of the hardest hit countries by the coronavirus, with 820,916 cases – the third highest in the world – and 22,123 deaths.

Millions of Indians revere Bachchan like royalty, hanging on his every word, seeking his blessings and congregating outside his Mumbai bungalow every year on October 11, his birthday.

Fellow Bollywood stars left well wishes on social media.

Sonam Kapoor tweeted: "Get well soon Amit uncle. All my love and prayers."

Pakistani singer Adnan Sami, who has been given citizenship by the Indian government, also joined in support.

Updated: July 12, 2020 02:31 PM

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