Hundreds from Telangana, AP attended event at NizamuddinUpdated: Mar 31, 2020 23:44 IST
Nearly 2,000 followers of the Tablighi Jamaat from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana are estimated to have attended the March 15-17 congregation of the Islamic missionary movement in New Delhi’s Nizamuddin, which has since emerged as a coronavirus (Covid-19) hotspot, raising deep concern among governments of the two states at a time when the pace of the disease’s spread has escalated.
Telangana officials said six people from the state, who attended the congregation, had died of Covid-19, and the government was trying to trace the people who they had been in contact with. Andhra Pradesh discovered 11 people who had been infected by the virus after attending the event; three contacts too tested positive.
At least 25-30 people from each district of the two Telugu-speaking states attended the congregation, said a statement released by the Andhra Pradesh government on Tuesday. Telangana has 33 districts and Andhra Pradesh 13 districts.
The Andhra government has so far identified around 800 people who attended the Jamaat congregation. The Telangana government has identified 1,030 people who did so.
“Officials are gathering information from the event organisers, police officials, the railway department as they travelled in trains, and from various other sources and tracking down everyone,” said the statement released by AP chief minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy ’s office on Tuesday evening.
According to a bulletin issued by the Andhra Pradesh government on Tuesday, as many as 17 new positive cases of Covid-19 had been detected in the state since Monday night. Out of these, as many as 14 were connected to the Tablighi Jamaat congregation: 11 of them had attended the event and three are relatives of attendees.
Chief minister Reddy, expressing concern over the development, appealed to the people who attended the congregation and the people they came in contact with to voluntarily step forward for medical treatment. He ordered the health department and the police to coordinate and identify fellow travellers of the Jamaat, test them, and shift them to quarantine centres in case they exhibited any symptoms.
In Telangana, health minister Etala Rajender asked all those who returned from the congregation to get themselves tested and remain under quarantine so that the disease doesn’t spread.
Mohammad Irfan, a professor of electronics at the Indian Institute of Information Technology (IIIT), Nuzvid, in Andhra Pradesh’s Krishna district, who attended the Nizamuddin event, said it was a peaceful congregation of Jamaat members to reaffirm their faith in Islam.
He said no one exhibited any Covid-19 symptoms at the event. “We returned safely on March 18. Later, I was put in quarantine at Nellore government hospital along with a few others. So far, none of us has developed any symptoms for Covid-19 and we are safe. We are being taken care of by the doctors and government officials well. There is no need to create unnecessary panic about the Delhi meeting,” Irfan said on the phone from quarantine.
Mohammad Akbar, who runs a business renting out tents for outdoor functions in Vijayawada, said he, too, had returned from the Delhi convention without any symptoms of Covid-19. “Maybe a small number of people might have tested positive for Coronavirus, but I can say 95% of those who returned from there are safe. As per the government instructions, I am maintaining home quarantine since my return,” Akbar said.
According to the official statement, arrangements for the Tablighi Jamaat followers in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh to participate in the congregation were supervised by Ikram Ali, leader of the organisation based in Hyderabad’s Mallepall, who took care of their accommodation and food.
HT couldn’t reach Ikram Ali , whose phone was switched off.
In Telangana, out of the 1,030 people who were identified as having attended the meeting, as many as 603 were from the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) limits.
“We conducted a joint operation in coordination with the health department since Monday night and started tracing the people who came in contact with those who attended the congregation,” said Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation commissioner Lokesh Kumar.
Six people from Telangana who attended the congregation died in hospitals after they were infected by the Coovid-19 virus, a statement from the chief minister’s office on Monday night. On Tuesday, 15 more tested positive. Apart from Greater Hyderabad, the other districts that recorded a high number of travellers to Delhi included Nizamabad (80), Nalgonda (45),Warangal Urban (38) and Adilabad (30 ) .
Telangana police said they were are on the lookout for those who came in contact with the six people who died of Covid-19, after returning from the Tablighi Jamaat event.
Director-general of police, M Mahender Reddy, who held a teleconference with officials late on Monday, directed all district officials to immediately trace the contacts and put them under quarantine.