About 200 devout were evacuated from the headquarters of Tablighi Jamaat, locally known as Markaz, a centre for learning teachings of Islam, in Nizamuddin area of south Delhi on Monday for coronavirus testing.
According to the police, all evacuees were taken to various hospitals designated for the test after which the premises including the attached mosque and the entire area was cordoned off.
As per the police, more than 1,000 people staying at the centre have been quarantined and being monitored.
The centre is visited by hundreds of faithful from across the country and it also receives guests in large number from various countries.
The centre is under the scanner since the death of two COVID19 victims—from Jammu and Kashmir and Tamil Nadu. Both had attended the congregation along with more than 500 people before the lockdown was enforced. The groups of international travellers, who supposedly arrived at the centre around March 10, were also part of the gathering.
According to a health official, Monday’s 25 COVID-19 cases include 18 such patients who are from Nizamuddin mosque and had attended the gathering earlier.
“Of these 18, no one is a resident of Delhi. Two are foreign nationals while rest 16 belong to different parts of country such as Calcutta, Kashmir, Assam, Tamil Nadu etc. The rest seven cases are Delhi based which are from other parts of the city. While four of these cases are direct and indirect contacts, 2 have travel history and one yet to be investigated,” noted the official.
According to the police, 18 attendees have already been tested Covid-19 positive including nine from the Andaman & Nicobar Islands.
“About 200 people have been admitted to hospitals, who are Covid-19 suspects. Several others are also in quarantine. The entire vicinity–Nizamuddin Police Station, Ghalib Academy, Sunder Nursey, Eishwar Nagar, and Nizamuddin Basti have been sealed. To keep a close watch on the movement of people in the neighbourhood, drones are being used,” said a senior police official.
According to people associated with the centre, about 100 people were removed during the weekend.
They are under observation at different hospitals including Rajiv Gandhi Super Speciality Hospital, Lok Nayak, Guru Teg Bahadur and Safdarjung hospitals, said an official of the government.
Besides, people from different states, travellers staying at the Markaz are from Indonesia, Malaysia, Ukraine, China, Yemen, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, and others.
People from Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Kashmir, and Andaman and Nicobar Islands had also attended the event in question.
“A team of doctors have been examining occupants of the centre since last week. On Monday, another team of health expert reached there and has set up health camps. Presently, about 1,000 people have been quarantined,” said the police official.
In the evening, a team of doctors of the World Health Organisation (WHO) reached to carry out tests and conduct check-ups of people on the campus of the centre.
Meanwhile, Delhi witnessed a spike in Covid-19 patients, with 25 new cases reporting on Monday.
On Saturday, an 80-year-old resident of the area tested positive for COVID-19.
The centre has been issued notices for holding a gathering allegedly during lockdown by the police.
“We have served notices on the centre for holding a religious gathering here during the lockdown. We are examining the matter. Action will be taken if required and then FIR will be registered,” said RP Meena, deputy commissioner of police (DCP) southeast district.
However, the Markaz administration denied the charges. The place was ‘mostly’ vacated on March 22 (Janata Curfew), the process was stopped as immediately after the Janata Curfew lockdown was announced, said the centre’s reply to the police notice.
“Yesterday, we provided a list of names to administration, who had health issues, including cold and fever. Some of them have been admitted to the hospital on the basis of age or their travel history. We don’t have any confirmed COVID-19 case till now,” Dr Mohammed Shoaib, spokesperson, Nizamuddin Markaz to ANI.
Delhi government statement on Nizamuddin cases
- Lockdown was imposed in entire India on 24th March and it was the duty of every owner and administrator of every hotel, guesthouse, hostel and similar establishment to maintain social distancing. It looks like social distancing and quarantine protocols were not practised here.
- Now it has come to our knowledge that the administrators violated these conditions and several cases of corona positive patients have been found here. Strong action would be taken against those in charge of this establishment. By this gross act of negligence, many lives have been endangered. It was the responsibility of every citizen to proactively avoid such gathering of people during the lockdown and this is nothing but a criminal act.
- After the centre informed us about the first positive patient and requested assistance we moved all symptomatic patients to our medical facilities and as a safety precaution, all non-symptomatic contacts have been moved to the quarantine centres.
- We have also asked the police to lodge an FIR against the Markaz.