At least, 1023 cases of COVID-19 in India are linked to the Tablighi Jamaat in New Delhi, said the Union Health Ministry adding that the authorities had traced nearly 22,000 other people who were connected to the religious congregation event which emerged as the biggest hotspot of the infection in the country.
Joint Secretary in the health ministry, Lav Agarwal, while briefing the media on Saturday said that the infections linked to the event were found in 17 states and that primary contacts of the 22,000 people had been placed in quarantine. He said that around 30% of the total cases so far are linked to one particular place where they could not sort of understand it and manage it.
Among the worst hit is Tamil Nadu, which has the second-highest infection count in the country with 485 cases after Maharashtra. Out of the 485 cases, 74 new cases reported in the state on Saturday are linked to the Delhi’s event.
In Assam, 25 of the 26 cases are reported to have attended the event and returned to the state last month. State health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said, “It is unfortunate that daily we are getting fresh inputs about more and more people from the state who had visited the congregation. I would appeal to the district and state-level functionaries of Tablighi Jamaat in Assam to give us the entire list of attendees voluntarily,” said Assam health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma. “We have not got the kind of response we expected from them. If we don’t get all the information within Sunday we might be forced to ask the police to get involved in tracing them,” he added.
In Uttar Pradesh, 47 of the 55 fresh COVID-19 cases were members of the Jamaat who attended the congregation, said additional secretary, home, Awanish Kumar Awasthi and principal secretary, Health and Family Welfare, Amit Mohan Prasad at a joint press conference in Lucknow. The state police identified 1,302 Jamaat members and 1,000 have been quarantined. The statewide search drive of the Tablighi Jamaat members is continuing, said Kumar.
In Andhra Pradesh, the government declared that 1,085 people had attended the conference, of which 946 people had been identified and tested. At least 108 had tested positive for COVID-19. Another 626 persons came in contact with the attendees and 32 of them contracted the virus. “In all, 140 out of 161 positive cases in the state were related to Tablighi Jamaat meeting directly and indirectly,” a release from the state government said. The details of the remaining persons related to the Jamaat incident are yet to be revealed.
In Odisha, where the government has imposed a harsh lockdown in several cities, three of the 28 people from the state who attended the Jamaat have tested positive. A worried Odisha government has now asked anyone who attended the event to come forward voluntarily and get tested in the next 24 hours. A senior government official said 68 persons from Odisha, including several African nationals, attended the event last month.
On Saturday, Uttarakhand police said it had identified 708 Jamaat followers and quarantined 673 of them. “In the case of 383 Jamaatis from our state, 26 didn’t return and are quarantined in Delhi only. Here, 285 of them have been put in institutional quarantine and 72 in-home quarantine. Soon the ones in home quarantine would also be put in institutional quarantine,” said Ashok Kumar, director general (law & order), Uttarakhand police.
Three Jamaat members were among 11 tested positive in Kerala on Saturday, said state health minister KK Shailaja. In Bengal, the government has not disclosed whether any state resident visited the Delhi event but the Kolkata Port Trust (KoPT) said on Saturday that a man working at Haldia port, who went to the Nizamuddin Markaz, tested positive for COVID-19. The man is an employee of one of KopT’s contractors at the port. KoPT said officers who might have had any kind of contact with the patient had been quarantined.