THE TABLIGHI Jamaat congregation in Delhi last month has emerged as the biggest hotspot, accounting for about one-fifth of the COVID-19 positive cases across the country so far. Of the total 53 deaths, 15 have been linked to the gathering.
In Delhi, the number of positive cases almost doubled on Thursday, fuelled largely by those evacuated from Markaz Nizamuddin on Tuesday and Wednesday testing positive.
Of the 141 new cases in the Capital, 129 are people evacuated from Markaz Nizamuddin, the headquarters of the Tablighi Jamaat, where a congregation of over 4,000 was held last month.
The samples of two persons who died last month — a person who was at Markaz Nizamuddin and a resident of Nizamuddin West — tested positive, taking the death toll in the city to four. Officials said they are still verifying if the latter was in contact with the Markaz gathering.
With 182 of the 293 cases in the Capital so far being linked to the congregation, the Delhi government is bracing for rigorous testing in the coming days.
Across the country, the total number of positive cases is now 2,069 (155 recovered, 53 dead), with 235 new cases being reported in the last 24 hours. Of these, 400 positive cases have been linked to the Tablighi Jamaat congregation.
Of the 53 deaths, at least 15 have been linked to the Delhi meet — nine in Telangana, and one each in Delhi, Gujarat, Karnataka, Mumbai, Kashmir and Tamil Nadu.
At the daily briefing, Lav Agarwal, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, said about 9,000 people — those who attended the meet and their contacts — had been quarantined, including 1,306 foreigners.
“Yesterday the Cabinet Secretary had a video conference with DGPs and Chief Secretaries of states to talk about intensive contact tracing and containment in war-footing on cases linked to Tablighi Jamaat. We got to know about this meeting through Telangana, and as people spread out, more cases came to light. About 400 positive cases have been found so far that are epidemiologically linked to the cluster. Additional testing is on,” he said.
“As per information received so far, Tamil Nadu has 173 cases (linked to the congregation), Rajasthan 11, Andaman and Nicobar 9, Delhi 47, Puducherry 2, Jammu and Kashmir 22, Telangana 33, Andhra Pradesh 67 and Assam 16,” he said.
Confirming two COVID-19 deaths, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said: “Of those admitted to the hospitals, one patient remains on ventilator and five are receiving oxygen support. The rest are stable.”
More than 2,300 were evacuated from Markaz Nizamuddin in an operation that began Tuesday and lasted until 4 am Wednesday. More than 500 who were symptomatic were taken to hospitals, and the rest to quarantine facilities.
According to health officials, a 64-year-old man from Tamil Nadu who was at the Markaz died on March 29, and his test reports came back positive for COVID-19. He had been admitted to Lok Nayak hospital. The other deceased is a 73-year-old man from Nizamuddin West, who was brought to the hospital by relatives, health officials said, adding that he died on March 31.
Kejriwal also said that apart from those evacuated from the Markaz, “51 patients have a travel history and 29 are cases of local transmission”.
“We have quarantined 2,346 people from the Markaz out of which 536 have been hospitalised. We are trying to get all of them tested together so we can have a clear picture in a day or two. There is a possibility that a number of people from this group might test positive in the next few days, which can shoot up our Delhi data of COVID-19 cases,” Kejriwal said.
On the possibility of community transmission, where the infection cannot be traced to a source, the CM said: “There are two things to worry about. First, is the virus spreading among the masses, and second, how many people have died so far. The figure of 29 — those who contracted it from those carrying the virus from abroad — has remained unchanged for some days now. This means coronavirus has not started spreading in Delhi, which is something to feel good about.”
Meanwhile, 7,900 samples from across the country have been tested so far.
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