Coronavirus | Southern States launch operation to identify Markaz delegates
The largest group that visited Delhi to take part in the event from March 15 to 17 was from Tamil Nadu
Authorities in the southern States scrambled on Tuesday to identify the large number of people who had attended a congregation at the Markaz Nizamuddin, international headquarters of Tablighi Jamaat in Delhi, and their contacts throughout their journeys.
Tamil Nadu appeared to have the largest number of delegates to the event, followed by Telangana, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh.
Tamil Nadu’s Health Secretary Beela Rajesh said a total of 1,500 persons had attended the conference in Delhi. Of this, 1,131 had returned to Tamil Nadu. Health officials managed to trace and quarantine 515 of them. Tracing all those who travelled to Nizamuddin to prevent and control the spread of COVID-19 was being pursued in high gear. Over half the total COVID-19 positive cases in Tamil Nadu were directly or indirectly linked to the travellers.
Health officials said that the clustering of cases was unexpected and had turned the trajectory of COVID-19 in the State, which otherwise reported positive cases mainly among those who had travelled abroad and their contacts.
500 from A.P.
In Andhra Pradesh, officials launched all-out efforts to trace the Tablighi Jamaat members. More than 500 individuals from almost all districts of Andhra Pradesh travelled to Nizamuddin for the prayers held from March 15 to 17, travelling mostly by AP Express and GT Express between March 10 and March 20. Police were trying find out whether the members used any other mode of transport.
‘No need to panic’
Kerala also braced itself for possible spread of COVID-19 after a large group returned from the Delhi event. At least 300 delegates were from Kerala. Officials said there was cause for concern but no panic, and among the first batch who left on March 5, at least 80 reached Kerala. A random check revealed none of them were positive for the virus, and most had passed the incubation period unaffected. However, the situation could change with extensive testing.
Among the 300 attendees, an estimated 150 from the State had left the centre for other regions for religious work, and the government was ascertaining their status. Some had stayed on in New Delhi during the curfew.
The State government is also concerned that scores of people from Salem, Madurai and Erode had stayed at the Tablighi seminary along with those from Kerala. An official said the delegates had sheltered in mosques in different parts of the country during their journey back, and they were trying to identify the spots.
About 78 members from Karnataka belonging to the Tablighi Jamaat were quarantined in government isolation centres and would be tested for COVID-19, said Jawaid Akhtar, Additional Chief Secretary (Health and Family Welfare and Medical Education). Mr. Akhtar said the department did not have specific information if all the 78 members belong to the Jamaat.
“An Order had been issued to shift all of them to government quarantine centres. They had been home quarantined three days ago. The person from Sira, who succumbed to the infection, is one of them,” he said.
Over 1,000 in Telangana
In Telangana, 1,030 persons from 29 districts were identified as ‘returnees’ from the Markaz prayers. On Tuesday, officials of erstwhile Adilabad district were on their toes preparing a list of those who had attended. The administrations in Adilabad, Kumram Bheem Asifabad, Mancherial and Nirmal districts intended to put them in mandatory isolation at home or at special centres.
Many devotees had gone to the national capital on their own from rural places and do not figure in the records. Over 50 people were identified as having participated from Adilabad district, but only 12 were in Jamaat records.
Authorities in Nirmal district located over 50 Jamaat returnees and they were placed in isolation wards in a polytechnic college. Some 80 people had made the visit.
Nizamabad Collector C. Narayana Reddy said that 39 persons who returned from Delhi along with the retired employee who was found COVID-19 positive were quarantined. Besides, 55 others who came in contact with them were also shifted to isolation wards. None except a retired employee had symptoms, he said.
In Medak, Sangareddy and Siddipet districts, 46 persons travelled to the congregation.
Sangareddy Collector M. Hanumantha Rao and Additional Collector Veera Reddy and other senior officials visited the hospital asked officials to post a police force there.