Around 150 people were evacuated by district authorities from the Nizamuddin area in New Delhi to various hospitals after they developed symptoms of COVID-19, a police officer said on Monday. On Sunday 34 persons from the same area had been moved to hospitals.
Delhi Police have cordoned off the area around the Markaz Masjid located around 100 metres from the Nizamuddin dargah. Drones have been deployed in the area to ensure strict implementation of lockdown orders, the police officer said.
Around 8,000 people from across the country as well as Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Saudi Arabia attended a gathering at Alami Markaz Banglewali Masjid, the headquarters of the Tablighi Jamaat in the Nizamuddin area of South Delhi earlier this month. While many returned home, others stayed back at the mosque. The persons evacuated were staying in the Markaz, the police officer said.
Speaking to the media Joint Secretary in the Union Health Ministry Lav Agarwal said, “In all such cases a set protocol is put in place where our team goes in to collect samples, trace contacts and recommend quarantine and basic precautions. The same has been done for this areas.”
Cases of COVID-19 have surfaced in several States in persons linked to the Nizamuddin gathering. On Friday, six persons, who had attended the Delhi meet, tested positive in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
They had returned to Port Blair via Kolkata on Tuesday, said a senior officer. A 65-year-old man, who died of COVID-19 at a hospital in Srinagar on Thursday, had also attended the Nizamuddin congregation and returned to Kashmir by train. In another case, a 52-year-old man tested positive after his return to Guntur in Andhra Pradesh. Entry to the Markaz Masjid has been banned till further orders.
A medical camp has been functional in the area for the last one week, collecting samples from people. A World Health Organisation (WHO) team also visited the Markaz.
“We are coordinating with other authorities to track down people who went back to their towns after attending the congregation,” said the officer.
“As per the recommendations of medical team, more people have been shifted to quarantine or hospitals. We are cooperating with authorities and people have been shifted from Markaz,” said Dr. Mohammad Shoiab, spokesperson of the Markaz.
In a report from the Assistant Commissioner of Police (Lajpat Nagar), a Tableegh Jamat was held at the Tabligh Markaz and it was attended by many people including foreign nationals. The attendees of the Jamat were already in the mosque when the March 24 21-day lockdown was announced and no fresh participants were allowed to enter as the Markaz gates and doors were closed immediately after the lockdown orders. In fact an effort on March 23 to decongest and vacate the Markaz premises had to be stopped midway due to extended lockdown.
The officer added that the report had been sent to MHA. DCP (South East) R.P. Meena, said the police had served notices for holding a religious gathering during the lockdown.
Union Home Ministry will blacklist around 800 preachers from Indonesia who came on a tourist visa and participated in a three-day religious conference in Delhi this month. India and Indonesia have a liberal visa arrangement and allow tourist visa on arrivals for the citizens.
“They came here on a tourist visa but were participating in religious conferences. This is violation of visa rules. We are going to blacklist around 800 Indonesian preachers so that in future they are not able to enter the country,” said the official.
The official added that the preachers had moved in batches to Telengana, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and conducted group meetings in mosques and elsewhere.
“Around 50% of Covid positive cases in Telengana are linked to the meetings organized by the preachers. Around 350 people from Telangana had also attended the conference in Delhi,” said the official. When asked whether the preachers were not screened at the airport for any COVID symptoms, the official said, “they entered India before the red alert was sounded.”
(With inputs from Vijaita Singh)