After 24 of its occupants were tested positive for the novel coronavirus, an Islamic center in the national capital, Delhi has now turned out to be the latest hotspot for the infection of Coronavirus. More than 400 people with symptoms of this virus were admitted to distinct hospitals and more than 1,100 were also shifted to government-managed quarantine facilities in Delhi alone over March 30 and 31, as informed by the officials.
Now authorities also fear that all those hundreds of individuals who returned their home after staying at this center over the last fortnight may have carried the virus to several States as well.
Thousands of people from across the country, as well as the ones from Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Saudi Arabia, too attended this gathering at the center earlier this month and this gathering continued for a number of days, officials told.
A large number of them were stuck on the premises as the country went under lockdown on March 24. Markaz Nizamuddin is the international headquarters of Tablighi Jamaat, a puritanical Islamic sect.
The Delhi police on Tuesday filed a case against Maulana Saad and also others of Tablighi Jamaat under Section 3 of the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897, read with Sections 269, 270, 271 and 120-B of the IPC, for violating government directions in respect of restriction of gatherings and safety measures, including physical-distancing.
The center informed in a statement that many of those participants were unable to disperse because all means of transport came to an abrupt halt on March 24, though it tried to make special arrangements with permission from the authorities. “Under such compelling circumstances, there was no option for Markaz Nizamuddin but to accommodate the stranded visitors with prescribed medical precautions till the situation becomes conducive to their movement or arrangements are made by the authorities,” the statement said.
Close community interactions in prayer, dining, and travel among Tablighi Jamaat followers put them at a high risk of contagion. Participants at the recent congregation included people from Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Jammu and Kashmir, and Kerala — in cases already known.
One attendee, a Srinagar-based businessman, died of the disease on March 26. He had traveled by air, train and road to Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and back to Jammu and Kashmir. At least 300 people who came in contact with him have been put under quarantine.
Eleven people who returned to Kerala have been put under quarantine; six from Telangana who attended the congregation have died. In Andaman and Nicobar Islands, six people who returned from the event have tested positive. The Assam government has asked people to voluntarily report themselves if they were present at the congregation. Around 300 people from the State attended the event.
All symptomatic people still in Delhi were being tested for COVID-19. “We are still in the process of shifting people from the Markaz [the center]. The symptomatic people are being moved to hospitals and the asymptomatic people are being moved to different government-run quarantine facilities,” a senior official of the Delhi Health Department told The Hindu. “The asymptomatic people are not being tested immediately, but we will be closely monitoring them. This is in keeping with the Central government’s guidelines,” the official said.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said the Markaz acted with very carelessness by organizing this congregation.