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Tablighi Jamaat congregation: 10 Indonesians return on train, test positive; officials tracing others

Officials said all contacts of the 10 Indonesians who took a train back to Karimnagar district after the event, and subsequently reported positive for coronavirus, have been tested.

Written by Sreenivas Janyala | Hyderabad |
April 1, 2020 1:33:38 am
oronavirus deaths telangana, nizamuddin markaz delhi, coronavirus latest updates, coronavirus lockdown, covid 19, coronavirus news telangana, indian express Parts of Nizamuddin West were cordoned off after six new cases were traced to the area. (Express Photo by Anil Sharma))

While many of the 1,200 or so people from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana who took part in the Tablighi Jamaat congregation at Delhi’s Markaz Nizamuddin said there was no government advisory against travelling or congregation when they reached Delhi in early-March, and that most people from the twin-states returned within two or three days of the events, officials are now tracing contacts of all those attended the congregation.

Officials said all contacts of the 10 Indonesians who took a train back to Karimnagar district after the event, and subsequently reported positive for coronavirus, have been tested.

Read | Six dead in Telangana, all attended Delhi’s Nizamuddin Markaz event

Eighty-seven of 711 people from Andhra Pradesh who attended the congregation remain untraced yet, and multiple teams are trying to locate them, officials said.

On Tuesday, of 17 fresh positive cases were reported in Andhra, including eight who attended the cingregation; six were of contacts of those who attended it.

On Tuesday, the number of confirmed cases in Andhra was 50, while in Telangana it was 77.

“We are trying to gather information if anyone else travelled to Nizamuddin for the meeting,’’ Andhra minister Perni Venkataramiah said.

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

The group went to Karimnagar on March 14. Circle Inspector of Karimnagar’s One Town Police Station, Vijay Kumar, said: “They visited four mosques in Mukarrampura, Ajmatheiya, and collector’s office area — hundreds of people joined them in prayers, and they also held meetings. Jameel Ahmed, owner of Institute of Mathematics, a coaching centre, invited the Indonesian group, and some local religious leaders, to interact with his students. This was in violation of orders to keep all educational institutions closed.”

Jameel, Kumar said, took them around town to several religious places and homes of some prominent Muslim families. “He was arrested for the violation and released on station bail,” Kumar said.

Officials estimate that at least 300-400 people came in contact with the group. Several Special Branch officials, as also Health Department officials and workers who went around trying to ascertain places they visited were also quarantined.

On Monday, two persons tested positive in Karimnagar (total confirmed cases in district now 13) — all in the area where the Indonesian group moved around.

‘No idea of virus’ when they went to Delhi Shaik Meeravali Mansur, president of Tablighi Jamaat in Eluru, in Andhra’s West Godavari district, told The Indian Express that there was no advisory on COVID-19 when he left for Delhi on March 6. “I reached New Delhi on March 6; at least 25 others from Eluru arrived a week later. We were there until March 17. During this entire time the government did not issue any warning or advisory, so we felt we were not at any risk,” he said.

While “most of us decided to leave by March 17 or 18”, Mansur said they learnt about the virus threat “only after returning” home.

Of 25 members from Eluru put under quarantine, five were put under observation last week after they developed symptoms, officials said.

According to one member from Guntur, who did not want to be identified, more than 2,500 people from across India and abroad stayed at Nizamuddin for several weeks, and were eventually left stranded after the Centre announced the lockdown. “A convocation was held from March 15 to March 17 afternoon. Most Telugu people (from Andhra and Telangana) left on March 17, as by then news of coronavirus had started coming in.”

Here’s a quick Coronavirus guide from Express Explained to keep you updated: What can cause a COVID-19 patient to relapse after recovery? | COVID-19 lockdown has cleaned up the air, but this may not be good news. Here’s why | Can alternative medicine work against the coronavirus? | A five-minute test for COVID-19 has been readied, India may get it too | How India is building up defence during lockdown | Why only a fraction of those with coronavirus suffer acutely | How do healthcare workers protect themselves from getting infected? | What does it take to set up isolation wards?

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