The detection of over 20 Covid-19 positive cases among the participants of a religious congregation at Nizamuddin in New Delhi between March 13 and 15 has sparked concern in the Northeast as a large number of participants were reportedly from the region.
Assam, Manipur and Mizoram have asked the participants to report immediately, apprehending that they might become carriers of the coronavirus to the region which has till now by and large managed to evade the pandemic.
So far, three Covid-19 patients have been detected in the region — one each in Assam, Manipur and Mizoram — while the number has crossed 1,200 in the country.
Assam health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Tuesday directed the deputy commissioners to detect the participants who have returned to the state and send them to quarantine centres.
It is not clear yet how many people from Assam attended the event and how many have returned. However, what has come to light is that a section of the participants had visited Hyderabad, one of the coronavirus-hit cities, before attending the Delhi congregation, which was attended by around 2,000 people from across the country.
Sarma said they had on Tuesday morning got a list of 456 persons (first list of 299 and another list of 157) who went to Delhi and Andhra Pradesh. “I had a video conference with the deputy commissioners and asked them to find out if these people have returned and to send them to quarantine centres,” he added.
Assam minister of state for health Pijush Hazarika appealed to the participants to report to the administration.
Ground reports suggest that 80 people from Nagaon and Morigaon districts participated in the event. They first went to Hyderabad and then to Nizamuddin. They are still in Delhi. The district administration has asked their family members to be in close touch with them for updates.
Nagaon superintendent of police Abhijit Gaurab said all the 27 people from the district, mostly from Rupahihat, 10km from the district headquarters, who attended the event are still in Nizamuddin.
The Morigaon administration also said that the 53 people from the district who attended the event are in Delhi. Morigaon superintendent of police S.N. Deka said, “According to reports, these people went to Hyderabad first where they took part in Jamaat.”
“They later went to Nizamuddin. The participants who attended the event, mostly from Batiparia Dergaon, are in hospital quarantine. We are carefully monitoring the matter.”
In Meghalaya, seven persons — five from Shillong and two from Lad Rymbai — are reported to have attended the congregation and are now in Delhi and Lucknow.
In a letter to the officer-in-charge of Lumdiengjri police station, Shillong, on Tuesday, Anwar Ali from Shillong intimated that the seven had visited Hazrat Nizamuddin Markaz before the lockdown was announced. He told The Telegraph that the seven had left Meghalaya on February 2. The five from Shillong are still in Nizamuddin and have tested negative. The two from Lad Rymbai are in Lucknow.
A Meghalaya police communique said officials had contacted the seven persons, who confirmed that they had not returned to the state. Five of them are in Delhi and two in Lucknow.
Manipur has also stepped up efforts to trace the participants. Director-general of police L.M. Khaute said those who attended the event, stayed in and around Nizamuddin or even passed through the area, should report to the nearest government hospital or contact helpline numbers 0385-2411668 and 8132953734, the Medical Directorate control room, Covid-19 control room or the chief minister’s office complex. Anyone failing to report will face legal action, he added.
A police source said around 85 persons from Manipur had attended the congregation. In a tweet, chief minister N. Biren Singh appealed to those who attended the religious congregation to report immediately.
Additional reporting by Sarat Sarma in Nagaon, Sanjoy Hazarika in Bokakhat and Brozendra Ningomba in Imphal