Nizamuddin: Time to focus on high-risk clusters | HT Editorial
Nizamuddin has emerged as the latest coronavirus disease (Covid-19) hotspot in India. A congregation at the headquarters of the Tablighi Jamaat saw a few thousand participants — even when it had become clear that social distancing norms were essential to battle the pandemic, and the Delhi government banned gatherings of more than 50. While a thorough probe may be needed about the sequence of events, both the organisers of the gathering, and the local administration, which allowed such a gathering to take place, exhibited a high degree of irresponsibility.
The Nizamuddin case underlines why it is important to focus on high-risk clusters. The government has done well in identifying 10 such locations — which have witnessed a high number of cases, and where the possibility of spread is high. It is important to expand the focus and bring in more rural locations within its ambit. Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, which send migrants to the cities, will now witness their return home; if even one of them is tested positive, the possibility of the infection spreading to the local population cannot be ruled out (and given the photographs of the rush home that was seen, it will be next to impossible to conduct a contact-tracing exercise). The Nizamuddin experience is also a cue for Indian health authorities to aggressively expand testing (and not stop at contact-tracing and quarantining), at least in these clusters. The possibility of infected asymptomatic individuals passing on the virus must be ruled out. The next step in India’s battle has to be a focus on these high-risk locations.