The number of coronavirus cases linked to the massive Islamic congregation in Delhi’s Nizamuddin last month shot up to at least 331 on Wednesday, accounting for the sharpest single-day spike in India since the outbreak of the deadly pandemic.
Tamil Nadu has registered the largest share so far at 190, followed by 70 in Andhra Pradesh, 24 in Delhi, 21 in Telangana, 13 in Assam, 10 in Adamans, two in Puduchhery and one in Kashmir.
Authorities scoured mosques across India on Wednesday trying to trace people who attended the gathering of the Muslim group in Delhi that has emerged as hotspot in the spread of coronavirus in India. Over 1,600 people have tested positive across the country so far.
Thousands of people from across India and some from countries like Malaysia and Indonesia, had visited the headquarters of the Sunni Muslim missionary movement, Tablighi Jamaat, in a narrow winding lane in Delhi’s Nizamuddin West last month, participating in prayer sessions and lectures over several days.
Tablighi Jamaat said that with no public transportation and all movement stopped due to a nationwide lockdown, thousands of people had been stranded inside the dormitories of the Markaz or centre after the meeting ended while others had left the city.
Delhi’s Health Minister Satyendra Jain said 2,335 people were taken out of the Tablighi centre and its mosque over a 36-hour period that ended on Wednesday.
“They have been sent to quarantine centres, others who showed symptoms are in hospitals,” he said.
With hundreds of millions living in cramped, unhygienic conditions, there are fears that India’s health system could be easily overwhelmed if the coronavirus takes root.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi imposed a 21-day lockdown that will end in mid-April in a desperate bid to stave off an epidemic among India’s 130 crore people.