NEW DELHI :
Around 647 covid-19 cases reported on Thursday and Friday from 14 states are linked to the Tablighi Jamaat congregation that was held last month in the national capital, the government said.
“There has been a rise of 336 covid-19 cases on Friday, a majority of which are linked to the Tablighi Jamaat congregation in Nizamuddin Markaz. Out of the 12 deaths reported in the last 24 hours, some are related to the Tablighi Jamaat," Lav Agarwal, joint secretary, ministry of health and family welfare said.
The figure of 336 Agarwal gave in the morning had risen to 555 at press time.
“These cases were reported from 14 states and union territories i.e. Andaman and Nicobar, Delhi, Assam, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh".
The Union government has blacklisted 960 foreigners who were part of the congregation. The Delhi police has issued a notice to the maulana of the Tablighi Markaz seeking a response on why the area was not evacuated, while the Centre has aggressively stepped up contact tracing and quarantining those who had come in contact with them.
The total number of covid-19 cases in Delhi have gone up to 386 with 93 more patients testing positive on Friday. Out of these, 259 patients are from those who were evacuated from the Markaz in Nizamuddin. In Delhi, three people from the Markaz have died.
“Due to the patients of Markaz in Delhi, there has been an increase in cases of corona. But it has not started spreading in Delhi yet. So far, the cases are limited to those who have travelled abroad or are related to those who have travelled. But we need to continue to take precautions. The situation is currently under control and that is possible with efforts taken by everybody," Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said.
The Uttar Pradesh government on Friday said 1,203 people who had attended the Tablighi Jamaat event have been identified and 47 of them have tested positive so far. The Rajasthan health department also said 29 coronavirus positive cases in the state are linked to the religious gathering. Most of the 75 fresh cases reported on Friday in Telangana were linked to the Markaz.
The situation is similar in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh (AP), where 12 new cases were reported on Friday, taking the total to 161. Of the total, 140 are linked to the Markaz. AP also reported its first covid-19 death—that of a 55-year-old man. A statement from the AP government said that 613 people who attended the congregation were tested for covid-19, along with their family members and other contacts.
Lalit Kant, former head of epidemiology and communicable diseases at the Indian Council of Medical Research warned that the Nizamuddin congregation can turn out to be a tragic replay of events in South Korea, when the infection spread like wildfire through congregants at Shincheonji Church of Jesus.
“The domino effect has been mindboggling—I understand that by March 30 (in about 40 days of the first case connected to the Church), over 5,000 covid-19 cases in South Korea were related to Shincheonji Church—more than 50% of the country’s total. There is only one way to tackle this: trace, test and isolate. The virus has to be stamped out on a war-footing," he said.
Pretika Khanna, Srishti Choudhary, Yunus Lasania contributed to this story.