State governments across India scrambled on Tuesday to identify at least 3,200 people who attended the Tablighi Jamaat congregation in New Delhi that has emerged to be the biggest Covid-19 hotspot in the country.
At least 11 state governments and union territories put hundreds of people under quarantine and tested them for the dreaded infection. While results were awaited in many states, officials confirmed that congregation members had tested positive in Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Jharkhand and Tamil Nadu, and the UT of Jammu & Kashmir.
Delhi government officials identified 1,830 people from 19 states and Union territories who visited the congregation in Nizamuddin, which was held between March 15 and 17, but state governments said they suspected many more people, who were not registered with the sect, had visited the event. At least seven persons who attended the event – six in Telangana and one in Kashmir – have died of Covid-19.
The state government has so far identified around 800 persons who attended the Jamaat congregation. “The officials are gathering information from the event organisers, police officials, railway department as they have travelled in the train, and from various other sources and tracking down everyone,” an official statement from Andhra Pradesh chief minister’s office said on Tuesday evening.
Of the 17 fresh cases on Tuesday, 14 were related to the Jamaat meeting – 11 attended the meeting and three are their relatives.
CM YS Jagan Mohan Reddy appealed to the travellers from Nizamuddin and their relatives to voluntarily come and take treatment.
Mohammad Irfan, a professor in electronics in Indian Institute of Information Technology (IIIT), Nuzvid in Krishna district, who attended the Nizamuddin conference, said, “There were no symptoms of anybody suffering from Covid-19 at the meeting. We returned safely on March 18. Later, I was put in quarantine along with a few others. So far, none of us has developed any symptoms,” Irfan said.
The local administration isolated at least 20 villages after some people affiliated with the Jamaat told officials about their travel history. The officials said three villages in Hajin, one in Ganderbal, two in Shopian and seven in Pulwama, five in Srinagar, two in Budgam had been declared as red zones.
Only eight persons at Hajin have tested positive and all of them have come in contact with the 65-year-old religious preacher, who died last week. The preacher had attended the gathering in Delhi on March 8 and 9 and left for Deoband in Uttar Pradesh on March 10. From there, he went to Samba district in Jammu on March 12. On March 16, he reached Srinagar.
“The locality in Srinagar where the preacher lived was also sealed…Around 200 people are under administrative quarantine and more than 600 in home quarantine,’’ said a senior officer of Bandipore district.
As many as 157 people from 20 different districts of UP participated in the Jamaat congregation, the state police have said, putting all district under alert.
“We are not releasing the figures but most of people from UP who visited the religious gathering in Delhi’s Nizamuddin are still in Delhi. Only a few of them had returned to UP and they are being fully examined and their entire track record maintained,” additional chief secretary (ACS), home, Awanish Awasthi said.
A senior police official said the presence of 157 participants of UP in the religious gathering was worrying as at least 24 people from the same gathering tested positive since Sunday and nearly 200 others started showing symptoms on Monday..
In Uttarakhand, the government said 34 people attended the meeting and 15 were quarantined so far.
At least 22 people, including 17 foreign nationals and five Indians, who were picked up from two mosques from Ranchi early on Monday attended the congregation, officials said. Ranchi SSP, Anish Gupta said, “All 22 were put in isolation centre under strict watch. Their medical examination is underway.”
A number of state governments said they were still in the process of identifying attendees.
A senior official of Bihar home department, who did not want to be named, said they have got the list of 86 persons who attended the Jamaat meet and administrations of all districts had been asked to get them tested and ensure home quarantine. The police have also issued instructions that all foreigner preachers in the state be tested.
West Bengal home secretary, Alapan Bandopadhyay, said, “All those from Bengal who have participated in this event are being identified and will be immediately tested and put under mandatory 14-day quarantine.”
“Some people from the state must have gone to Delhi. But identifying them will not be easy,” Haji Jameel Manzar, a Kolkata-based member of the Muslim Personal Law Board told HT. Police is seeking help of local offices of Jamaat to get details.
Rajasthan DGP, law and order, ML Lather, said 17 people from the state attended the congregation and all of them are in isolation in Delhi “but still we are trying to identify if there were some more who attended the event”.
Assam government said 356 persons from the state were present in and around the hotspot near Nizamuddin.
Meghalaya chief minister’s office said 12 people from Meghalaya attended the Jamaat. All of them were in Delhi, the statement said. Seventeen persons from Himachal are in quarantine in Delhi.
Eight persons from Kerala were in quarantine in the national capital.