Nizamuddin coronavirus cluster: Race to trace Tabligh meet contacts

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Published: April 1, 2020 7:37 AM

According to officials who traced the movement of the group, the entire group travelled in a second class coach (S9) of AP Sampark Kranti Express. They first got down on March 13 at Ramagundam in Peddapalli district of Telangana.

While Delhi itself evacuated 1,548 people over the last three days, Andhra Pradesh has identified 711 persons who were at Markaz Nizamuddin.

MORE THAN a dozen states and Union Territories are scurrying to identify, quarantine, and test people who attended a gathering of almost 4,000 people at Markaz Nizamuddin, the headquarters of the Tablighi Jamaat in Delhi, in the middle of March.

With Telangana reporting on Monday five Covid-19 deaths, and Tamil Nadu on Tuesday stating 50 of 52 Covid-19 positive cases were of people who were part of the congregation, fear of a rapid spread has prompted all states to undertake a massive contact tracing programme.

While Delhi itself evacuated 1,548 people over the last three days, Andhra Pradesh has identified 711 persons who were at Markaz Nizamuddin. Of this, it has quarantined 122 at various local private hospitals and isolation facilities, 207 at government hospitals, and 297 in their homes. The remaining 87 are untraceable and teams are searching for them. “We are trying to gather information if anyone else travelled to Nizamuddin for the meeting,’’ minister Perni Venkataramiah said.

From neighbouring Telangana, at least 400 persons participated in the meeting, a state government official said. A group of 10 Indonesians accompanied a group from Karimnagar on their its return from New Delhi. While one Indonesian tested positive on March 17, the remaining nine tested positive the next day after they were moved to Gandhi Hospital at Hyderabad.

According to officials who traced the movement of the group, the entire group travelled in a second class coach (S9) of AP Sampark Kranti Express. They first got down on March 13 at Ramagundam in Peddapalli district of Telangana. “They visited several local mosques and travelled in a six-seater autorickshaw, and participated in at four meetings. We traced the auto driver and put him in quarantine but he tested negative,” a police official said.

In Tamil Nadu, officials said 1,031 people attended Delhi conference in the second week of March. “All of them have been returned but we are yet to trace about 300 of them as police could trace only their phone numbers. Many phones are switched off, some had returned to Tamil Nadu and could not be traced in their addresses. About 400 people from Tamil Nadu are still stranded in Delhi and the local government is taking care of their health and isolation,” said K Shanmugam, state chief secretary.

Tracing these people and quarantining them has become the top most priority of the state, Shanmugam said. “We will do it in two or three days. We have to contain them, screen all their contacts to prevent the further spread of the virus,” he said.

Closer to Delhi, the Uttar Pradesh police have found that 157 persons from 19 districts in the state attended the congregation, six of whom have tested positive for Coronavirus. On Tuesday, police team raided the residence of all 157 persons to check their locations and found just nine have so far returned from Delhi. Their medical examination was conducted and they were sent for quarantine.

Over the last week, the J-K administration has embarked on a mission to find how many visited the Tablighi Markaz in Delhi. It has prepared a list of 800 persons, which includes those who were in contact with the persons present in the gatherings. Official sources said the administration has already contacted over 350 persons and put them under quarantine while the search for others is on.

In West Bengal, the Home Department and the Health Department were presently tracking such people. Sources said as many as 73 persons from the state attended the event. “The process of identification is on, and they are being quarantined for 14 days, and will be tested for Covid-19,” said an official.

According to officials in Uttarakhand, they have record of 26 people who had attended religious programme of Tablighi Jamaat’s Markah in Delhi earlier this month. Among them, 24 are from Haridwar while two are from Dehradun. Officials said that all 26 are in Delhi at present. “Since they are still in Delhi, there is no possibility of transmission from them in Uttarakhand. They are identified and an alert to the Central government has been sent,” said an official.

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