New Delhi (IANS): The Tablighi Jamaat connection to COVID-19 cases in India is exploding as these spreaders crisscross the country to reach their hometowns.
According to a Health Ministry update issued on Thursday evening, about 400 positive COVID-19 cases found across 10 states and Union Territories have links to the Tablighi Jamaat cluster in Nizamuddin.
The figures continue to spike as many more are testing positive. By night, between Tamil Nadu and Delhi, the cases are 264 and 124, respectively, showing the highest number of cases. In fact, all the nine deaths in Telangana have the Tablighi connection.
At 400 cases, one in every five cases in India has a Tablighi connection as of now and this ratio is likely to go up as the new cases detected on Thursday are primarily Tablighi-related.
On Thursday, in state after state, the trend is that almost all new cases are coming with a Markaz connection. The Tablighi connection has now become the single biggest source of the COVID-19 spread despite 130 crore [1.30 billion] people being under lockdown in India.
Before this outbreak happened in Nizamuddin, the spike in cases had mellowed and some commentators had even suggested that India may be better off than the other countries.
The number of cases has indeed seen an explosion after more than 2,000 people came out of the Nizamuddin Markaz, the headquarters of the Tablighi Jamaat in Delhi.
Lav Agarwal, the Joint Secretary in the Union Health Ministry, said that additional testing to identify new cases is in progress, as people from the Nizamuddin area have moved to several states across the country.
The official from the Health Ministry added that out of nearly 2,000 Tablighi Jamaat members in Delhi, 1,804 have been quarantined while 334 have been admitted to different hospitals.
According to the Delhi Health Department, 129 new cases were reported from the Nizamuddin Markaz in a day. In total, 182 people have tested positive from the Nizamuddin Markaz so far. Till Wednesday night, only 52 had tested positive from the building.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said on Thursday that the number of positive cases can increase massively.
“The government has decided to test all those who were evacuated from the Markaz,” Kejriwal said, adding that out of the 2,348 people evacuated from the building, 1,810 people are at the quarantine facilities while 536 are at the hospitals.
“Two evacuated from Nizamuddin Markaz have died due to coronavirus in the last 24 hours,” he said.
The largest number of cases has been seen in Tamil Nadu where at least 264 from the Tablighi group have now tested positive. Of the 75 new cases that emerged in the state on Thursday, as many as 74 have a Tablighi connection.
The story is the same in the northeast, where out of the 20 positive cases, 18 took part in the Tablighi Jamaat congregation at the Nizamuddin Markaz last month.
According to Assam Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, three attendees of the Tablighi event from the state’s Goalpara district have tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday, taking the state’s tally to 16.
Sarma had earlier said that the Centre has communicated to the state that over 500 people from Assam had attended the Tablighi meet.
In Andhra Pradesh, of the 143 cases, 99 are those who attended the Tablighi meet in Delhi, though no deaths have been reported so far.
Telangana has seen the maximum number of deaths. The state has seen nine deaths, all of whom attended the Tablighi event. The total number of cases in Telangana is 127, of which 50 fall under this criterion.
In Karnataka, 11 persons who had attended the Tablighi event have tested positive for the dreaded virus, Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa said on Thursday.
“As many as 91 people from Bidar in the state’s northern region were tested and 11 of them reported positive, while 80 tested negative,” Yediyurappa told reporters earlier in the day.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Thursday informed that 157 Keralites, who attended the Tablighi Jamaat meeting, have been identified.
“Two of them are positive and are under treatment. These people have now been traced and they hail from all the 14 districts of the state. These people are either in isolation at their homes or in observation at hospitals, while some of them are in Delhi also,” said Vijayan.
Three people from Himachal Pradesh, who had returned to the state after attending the Tablighi meet, tested positive for coronavirus on Thursday, an official said. A total of 190 people have been identified to have returned to the state after attending the religious congregation in Delhi.
Meanwhile, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar said on Thursday that 725 people, who attended the Tablighi event, have been kept under quarantine.
Positive cases with the Tablighi connect have also been traced in Rajasthan.