Hyderabad, TELANGANA — The four southern states of Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka are scrambling to track hundreds of people who travelled to Delhi’s Nizamuddin between March 14 and March 18 after at least 9 COVID-19 deaths were traced to this neighbourhood in the national capital, according to health officials and news reports.
On Monday, March 30, the Delhi police said at least 200 people from Nizamuddin had been admitted to isolation wards across the city with COVID-19 symptoms, according The Hindu. It is not clear how many of these people were directly linked to the congregation. COVID-19 is the name of the illness caused by the novel coronavirus at the heart of a global public health crisis.
While HuffPost India had reported that Telangana’s first Covid-19 death was traced back this a congregation at the Markaz Nizamuddin, the headquarters of the Tablighi Jamat religious order, state officials issued a press release stating a total of six deaths in Telangana could be traced back to the event. In Andhra Pradesh, a state department official told Huffpost India that a 52 year old man had died after he stayed at the congregation venue in Nizamuddin and had travelled back to Guntur on March 18 in Duronto express, coach no S8. The death of a cleric from Kashmir has also been traced back to the same gathering. Meanwhile, NDTV reported the death of a 65-year-old man from Thumakuru, Karnataka who had attended the meeting.
In a press release, the Tabhligi Isam has stated that they are cooperating with medical authorities.
In Telangana at least 260 attendees are now under self-quarantine; in Andhra Pradesh another 60 people have been traced back to the gathering.
Meanwhile, the Tamil Nadu government is looking for 1,500 people from the state who had attended the conference. According to The Hindu, the government has traced 819 cases of the 1,500, but the whereabouts of the rest are currently unknown. In Karnataka too people had attended the event, a source in the know of happenings at the religious congregation said.
Need For Coordination
The Nizamuddin case illustrates the need for state governments to work closely to track the movement of people across their borders. While each state has individually reported the deaths of their residents to the Union Health Ministry, four days passed before officials in each state started to see a pattern leading back to Nizamuddin.
Nizamuddin was finally cordoned off on March 30, but precious time had been lost.
In the Telangana case, for instance, state officials began drawing connections only after a 74 year old cleric who complained of breathlessness, was tested for the coronavirus minutes after he died.
“The 74-year-old person had not come for testing in any of the centres and was tested positive after his death. It was only then that we got to know of the case and immediately started looking for his contacts,” said an official from the Telangana health ministry. Four of the 74-year-old’s family have tested negative while three are still under quarantine.
“Each day the Centre is alerted on the status of cases and their travel history. The Ministry of Health was in the know of the case in Telangana on March 27 morning,” the Telangana official said.