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Coronavirus: Delhi’s Nizamuddin, Noida among 10 latest COVID-19 hotspots in India

Some 441 people from the center are being tested for Covid-19 and 1,107 others have been placed under quarantine (Photo: PTI)Premium
Some 441 people from the center are being tested for Covid-19 and 1,107 others have been placed under quarantine (Photo: PTI)

  • A large religious gathering at Hazrat Nizamuddin Markaz in New Delhi has emerged as one of India’s 10 coronavirus hotspots, with at least six deaths and 37 positive cases found so far
  • Authorities have identified Delhi’s Nizamuddin, Noida, Meerut and some pockets of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Kerala as emerging hotspots and taking cluster containment measures

A large religious gathering in Indian capital New Delhi has emerged as one of the country’s 10 coronavirus hotspots, with at least six deaths and 37 positive cases found so far.

Infections spread when about 2,000 Muslim devotees, including some visiting from Indonesia and Malaysia, attended a gathering at the Tabligh-e-Jamaat’s Markaz in New Delhi’s tightly packed Nizamuddin area in mid-March.

Some 441 people from the center are being tested for Covid-19 and 1,107 others have been placed under quarantine after the building was evacuated on Monday and Tuesday by health officials and local police, Delhi’s Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said at a press conference on Tuesday.

Attendees at the religious gathering account for 24 of the 97 infections reported in the Indian capital, Kejriwal said, adding that “the whole episode was very wrong" because people at the event had spread out across the country.

Six people who had attended the Delhi gathering died in Telangana after contracting the infection, the office of the chief minister said in a tweet. Another 13 people who attended the same event have also tested positive in the state of Andhra Pradesh, a local government statement said. India has so far reported 1,251 coronavirus infections, including 32 deaths.

The organizers of the gathering in Nizamuddin violated social distancing and quarantine protocols, the Delhi government said in a statement on Tuesday. The city administration has moved all symptomatic patients to medical facilities and as a safety precaution all non-symptomatic contacts have been moved to quarantine centers, the statement added.

However in a statement Tuesday, the Jamaat said its program was discontinued on March 22 -- before the nationwide shutdown was announced -- but because the city of New Delhi was partially locked down, a large number of its visitors were unable to go back home. It denied violating lockdown norms.

Mumbai outbreak

Authorities in India have started identifying emerging hotspots and taking cluster containment measures, said Lav Agarwal, a senior official of the health ministry. Officials have increased testing in at least 10 identified areas, which include Delhi’s Nizamuddin, the towns of Noida, Meerut in northern Uttar Pradesh state and pockets in the states of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Kerala and Gujarat, according to several local media reports.

The Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai on Monday sealed two rundown settlements in the suburb of Worli and imposed restrictions on movement after a small cluster of Covid-19 cases were discovered, Aaditya Thackeray, the politician representing the area and son of Maharashtra’s Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, tweeted on Monday. The suburb’s famous sea-facing promenade -- home to Bollywood celebrities and wealthy citizens like Isha Ambani, as well as several coprorate offices, including the Mahindra Group -- is close by.

Officials visit each house in affected areas to seek detailed reports on the health status of residents. Those with respiratory illness or influenza-like symptoms are closely monitored. “Contact tracing in the containment zone and buffer zone gets done," said Agarwal. “That is how we try to break the chain."

On Monday Agarwal repeated the government’s position that India has not reported any community transmissions. The country, which is home to 1.3 billion, has some of the lowest coronavirus testing rates in the world and has so far tested some 42,788 people.

India enforced a nationwide lockdown on March 24. to try and stem rising infections but reports have continued to emerge of people violating lockdown instructions. The sudden closures have also triggered a mass exodus of poor migrant workers leaving cities to head to their villages as work and money dried up for them as cities began shutting down all but essential services.

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