With highest Nizamuddin attendees, South scrambles to deal with the COVID-19 fallout

A state-wise breakdown of the Jamath congregation attendees

Markaz-nizamuddin-attendees-ambulance-telangana-PTI Hyderabad: 18 persons from Nalgonda and Miryalaguda, who attended the religious congregation at a mosque in Delhi's Nizamuddin area, are brought to a fever hospital for COVID-19 test, in Hyderabad, Tuesday, March 31, 2020 | PTI

Southern states have become the crux of attention amid the Tablighi Jamath COVID-19 episode, with a majority of the congregation attendees hailing from Telangana and Tamil Nadu. The South is now in a hurry to identify and isolate the participants. Nizamuddin West, a south Delhi locality, had emerged as an epicentre for the spread of coronavirus in different parts of the country after thousands of people took part in the Tablighi Jamath congregation from March 1-15. In Delhi alone, 24 participants tested positive for the disease while 441 others were hospitalised after they showed symptoms. Incidentally, Telangana and Tamil Nadu have received telling blows as a fallout, with the former recording six COVID-19 deaths on a single day on Monday.

According to data provided by officials, this is the state-wise count of attendees:

Tamil Nadu: 1,500 (approx)

Gujarat: 1,500 (visited Nizamuddin area)

Telangana: 1,000 (approx)

Uttar Pradesh: 569

Haryana: 503

Maharashtra: 252

Himachal Pradesh: 167

Madhya Pradesh: 107

Chhattisgarh: 101

Bihar: 81

West Bengal: 71

Uttarakhand: 48

Odisha: 4

Arunachal Pradesh: 1

While Telangana saw six fatalities, all of whom attended the congregation, Tamil Nadu witnessed the steepest increase in the daily number of COVID-19 positive cases on Wednesday at 110, taking the aggregate to 234. A total of 190 people from Tamil Nadu who had attended the Delhi congregation have been found COVID-19 positive so far, state Health Secretary Beela Rajesh said.

Other states are also keeping an eye on those having returned home after their Delhi visit, even as Tamil Nadu appealed to the untraceable people to voluntarily turn up before the authorities concerned for further medical action.

The Telangana administration has estimated that over 1,000 people from the state might have attended the Nizamuddin congregation in the national capital. The government has identified all but 160 of those who attended the congregation, state Health Minister E. Rajender said. Earlier, two of the six victims had died at the Gandhi Hospital in Hyderabad, one each in two private hospitals, and one each in Nizamabad and Gadwal towns. Special teams under District Collectors have identified those  who came in contact with the deceased and they have been shifted to hospitals, according to the government.

Tamil Nadu witnessed the steepest single-day spike in the number of positive coronavirus cases on Wednesday, the number being 110. All of them had attended the Nizamuddin event.

Chief Minister K. Palaniswami said 1,131 men have returned of the about 1,500 people who went for the event. "About 515 people have been identified...others who took part in the meet should voluntarily get in touch with the authorities...we have not got the addresses of others fully," he said, apparently indicating that their whereabouts could not be ascertained so far. He said while a section could not be contacted yet, others have been quarantined in Delhi.

Considering the severity of COVID-19 and its potential to adversely impact society at large, returnees should approach the authorities so that they could be tested and treated if needed, he said. Meanwhile, Rajesh said nearly 1,100 people heeded the government's "fervent appeal" and came forward to be admitted in isolation wards and the required tests were conducted on 658 of them while the rest will be covered in the next 24 hours.

The government had earlier said that several district administrations could not establish contact with many returnees, even as the police department was also working to trace them.

Andhra Pradesh reported 43 new cases of coronavirus on Wednesday, most of which relate to the Tablighi Jamaat congregation, officials said. While the Karnataka government has so far identified 78 people "associated" with the Nizmauddin event, Kerala has also zeroed in on all those who travelled to Delhi for the event.

According to Karnataka Additional Chief Secretary Health and Family Welfare department, Jawaid Akhtar, anybody who has attended the event should contact the authorities. He said 78 people from the state associated with Tablighi Jamaat have been identified and quarantined. "We are not sure whether all of them attended the congregation held earlier this month, but as they would have come in contact with those attended in one or the other, they have been put under government quarantine," he said.

With many of them claiming to have already completed 14 days of quarantine, the government has decided to put them for COVID-19 test, he said, adding the 78 included some foreign nationals.

Meanwhike, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has said the government has collected the details of those who took part from the state in the recent religious congregations in Nizamuddin and Malaysia and it needs to be examined if they have any health issues. "Police have already made detailed examination in this regard. The list of participants has been given through respective District Collectors. Necessary precautions will be made in the concerned districts in this regard," he said.

Puducherry, a union territory near Tamil Nadu, also reported two confirmed COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, with both persons having attended the congregation in Nizamuddin.

-Inputs from PTI

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