Tamil Nadu on Wednesday recorded a spike of over 110 fresh cases of Covid-19 all of whom had attended the Tablighi Jamaat religious conference held in the densely populated area of Nizamuddin in New Delhi in the middle of March.
This is the highest number of new cases recorded in Tamil Nadu in a single day so far.
The state now has 234 positive Covid-19 cases, of which 190 are related to the religious conference, which is now being treated as the largest cluster in the country as several states scramble to contain, identify and treat the attendees.
Wednesday’s fresh cases are spread out across 19 districts including Chennai, Coimbatore and Dindigul, among others.
Till Wednesday, the state had traced 1103 conference attendees and all of them are in isolation wards in their respective districts, Tamil Nadu health secretary Dr Beela Rajesh said.
Close to 1500 persons from Tamil Nadu are believed to have attended the religious conference, of whom over 1130 people are believed to have returned to the state. Till Tuesday, the state had traced and tested 515 persons.
In the intervening night of Tuesday and Wednesday, over 580 persons came forward following the government’s appeal asking attendees to get themselves tested, raising the total number of those traced to 1103.
“Through the night we have also been testing and admitting people who are coming in,” Rajesh said.
In all, the state had tested 658 persons till Wednesday evening. Officials said that all 1103 persons would be tested by Thursday.
“We have seen a spike of cases over the last two days to prepare ourselves, the state is building capacity accordingly,” Rajesh said on Wednesday.
The state has rolled out a containment plan which involves contact tracing the attendees of the conference, their family members, and their primary contacts, all of whom will be investigated and tested. Health workers have been instructed to conduct door-to-door surveillance of the attendees’ families across several districts in the state. The district authorities have also been instructed to cordon off a 7-8 km radius area around the attendees’ homes, where movement will be restricted.
“This plan will come into effect not just for those who tested positive, but whoever participated in this conference. It is already under process by district administration,” Rajesh said adding, “The good thing is today is the eighth day of the lockdown so several of these people were already at home.”
At least 300 persons from the state, who attended the conference are believed to be in quarantine in New Delhi.
The Hindustan Times spoke to a Jamaat attendee who is under quarantine in the national Capital, and who did not wish to give out his name. He said that the result for his Covid-19 test had come out negative.
“I reached Delhi around March 20 and even then several people were coming to the gathering (in Nizammudin). That weekend at an event, we heard that transport was going to be restricted so those who had money left immediately,” he said.
“We followed all instructions in quarantine and made sure that the senior citizens or those who had ailments like diabetes among us got help first.”