4,000 Covid-19 cases linked to Jamaat, says govt. But India isn’t the only one – india news
The Tablighi Jamaat congregation in its central Delhi headquarters, the Markaz, has been linked to over 4,000 Covid-19 cases in the country, the government announced on Saturday. The Jamaat has been linked to 4,291 of the country’s 14,378 coronavirus cases in the country; nearly three out of every ten cases.
But India isn’t the only country in the world that has had to suffer due to Tablighi Jamaat workers unwittingly turning their sect into the country’s virus super spreaders.
In several countries – mostly in south and south-east Asia – the Tablighi Jamaat has been linked to 3,000 more cases, and counting.
Like neighbouring Pakistan where over 500 of the country’s 7,500-plus cases are prima facie linked to the Jamaat workers. One key hotspot in Pakistan was the Raiwind Ijtema, the annual event in March that, according to the police, was attended by about 100,000 people. The Jamaat puts the size of this congregation at twice as much.
But it is in Malaysia where a Tablighi Jamaat congregation at a sprawling mosque complex on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur is seen as the source of hundreds of new coronavirus cases in the country and far beyond. Malaysia has linked over 1,500 of its 3,500 Covid-19 cases to this congregation.
In February, the mosque complex hosted its annual congregation attended by over 15,000 people who dispersed before countries started ordering the shutdown. Some of them are presumed to have come to India.
It was only when Telangana confirmed that six people who had attended the Delhi event had tested positive that an alarm was sounded.
According to data compiled by Hindustan Times, Jamaat workers have been reported to have tested positive for the Sars-CoV-2 pathogen that causes the coronavirus disease. For example, 79 of the 5.900 Covid-19 cases detected in Indonesia are linked to the Jamaat.
Back in India, the Jamaat challenge appears to be finally in grips in national capital Delhi where the government has traced down hundreds of more people with links to the Jamaat and sent them to quarantine centres. The city hasn’t reported a Jamat-linked positive case in two days.
On Saturday, the union health ministry said the Tablighi Jamaat workers account for 63 per cent of the city’s 1,700 cases. But it is worse in Tamil Nadu and Telangana where 84 per cent and 79 per cent of the state’s Covid-19 patients, respectively, are linked to the Markaz.
The health ministry said Tablighi Jamaat-linked Covid-19 cases had been reported from 23 states and union territories. In Arunachal Pradesh, the congregation has been linked to its only coronavirus case.
The headquarters of the religious sect had emerged as the biggest coronavirus disease hotspots last month after authorities discovered nearly 2,300 workers living in the building in circumstances that made social distancing impossible. Initial tests indicated 24 of them were already positive when officials moved them out, sending them to state-run quarantine facilities. A nationwide manhunt was also launched for the thousands of others who had been to the Markaz earlier and had headed back to the states for missionary work.
This week, the Home Ministry expanded this search to cover Rohingya as well after reports that some of them had also been associated with the Jamaat workers and attended the congregation.
Over the next few days and weeks, the Centre needs to decide how to proceed against the 854 foreigners who were evacuated from the Markaz and other places in Delhi. They have been blacklisted from returning to India for the next few years. But once they complete their quarantine, the government intends to hand them over to their embassy to deport them. It is not clear yet if foreign nationals who have had FIRs registered against them would be allowed to leave at this point.
Indian officials had recently prevented some Malaysians from leaving the country after their links with the Tablighi had surfaced.
Malaysian deputy foreign minister Datuk Kamaruddin Jaafar this week told reporters that 17 nationals who took part in the Tablighi gathering in Delhi had been detained by authorities in India. He said they had been charged under the penal code, the disaster management law and the Foreigners Act.