Tamil Nadu managed to locate most of those who attended the Delhi Tablighi Jamaat (TJ) congregation from the state by Wednesday evening, though the Covid-19 positive count for the cluster shot up by 110 taking the state’s total to 234. The TJ cluster now accounts for 190 of the positive cases in the state and test results are awaited for most of the 1,103 Delhi delegates who came forward to be screened.
The Union health ministry blamed those who attended gatherings at the Delhi mosque for the spike in Covid-19 cases in the country. Lav Agarwal, joint secretary in the ministry, said 134
coronavirus cases countrywide were linked to the TJ congregations. This was around 4pm.
By late evening, when data from all states started pouring in, the magnitude of the group’s role in the spread of the disease seemed to get even more serious.
It showed 348 (18%) out of total 1,976 Covid-19 cases identified across the country were linked to TJ. The number is likely go up further as test results of nearly 8,000 TJ followers and people who came in contact is still awaited. Also, government data shows 16 people connected to the TJ meet — three foreigners and 13 Indians — have died in different states. Some of them have been confirmed positive for Covid-19 while the reports of others are awaited.
In TN, 190 who tested positive in the TJ cluster included foreign missionaries who transited through the Tablighi Jamaat headquarters, said health secretary Beela Rajesh. So far, samples have been drawn from 658 people from the cluster, she said. The 110 people who tested positive on Wednesday were from 15 districts in the state.
‘TN police have set up 50 spl teams to trace all delegates’
She said, “Many people came to the health facilities as soon as we made an appeal on Tuesday. So far, 1,103 of 1,131 people have come for testing. They are in isolation wards (across the state) and are being tested.”
The state is making special containment plans around the houses of people who tested positive from this group. Containment and buffer zones are being drawn up. If close contacts or those in the containment zone are affected, they should approach the health department, said officials. The state police had constituted 50 special teams to trace all the Muslim delegates, said a police officer, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“There was reluctance and even apprehension among the Muslim participants, considering the attacks on us on social media,” Hafiz Mohammed Noorulah, Imam of the Thiru-Vi-Ka Nagar masjid near Perambur, told TOI on his way to the Omandurar multi-specialty hospital in Chennai. He was among the 70-odd Chennai participants in the TJ conference. At least 15 of them remained in Delhi.
The first case in the cluster tested positive on March 21 when two Thai national were brought to IRT in Perundurai with symptoms of cough and cold. “We have been screening people in domestic airports and railway stations since then,” said the health secretary, denying any delay in preventing the surge in infection. “It is not something that happened in one day. They met at the conference in Delhi and they have been moving around in the state,” she said.
A Malaysian national who had attended the meet died at Delhi’s Rajiv Gandhi Super Specialty Hospital (RGSSH) on Wednesday. Hospital authorities claimed he had tested negative for Covid-19.
There were chaotic scenes at RGSSH on Tuesday where more than 100 of the TJ members are quarantined when one of them attempted to jump off the building. Some patients also turned aggressive, doctors said.
“One patient at RGSSH tried to jump to his death on Tuesday. He was saved by doctors. I had a word with the home secretary. We are making arrangements of police to provide security to doctors and patients,” CM Arvind Kejriwal said.
He, too, condemned the Jamaat for organising such a large gathering when the country was readying to fight the global pandemic.