Rapid Action Force officers wearing protective masks walk past a mosque from where dozens of men, who according to health and police officials had visited three Muslim missionary gatherings including in Nizamuddin area of New Delhi, were taken to a quarantine facility amid concerns about the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Ahmedabad, India, April 3, 2020.(REUTERS)
The Delhi government on Friday expanded the list of Covid-19 hotspots in the city to bring three more localities, a desperate effort to stop the spread of the disease that has infected more than 900 people.
The decision to include 3 more localities – Nabi Karim and Chandni Mahal in central Delhi and parts of Zakir Nagar in south – was driven by reports that 183 more people had tested positive.
Most of them, a whopping 154, had attended the Tablighi Jamaat congregation at a seven-storey building last month or were among the 2,000-plus evacuated from there. It had taken the intervention of National Security Adviser Ajit Doval to get them to vacate the building.
There were 24 who had already tested positive and at least 200 more already showed symptoms of the disease. Those who had the symptoms were moved to hospitals; the others to state-run quarantine centres. Nationwide and in Delhi, a massive search was also launched to quarantine every person who had been to the congregation or had come in close contact with those already tested positive. Across the country, there are over 22,000 such people in quarantine centres.
A similar search in Delhi also led the police to hundreds of Jamaat followers including foreigners who had been hiding in the capital’s mosques. There were scores of others from the city who had gone home.
According to a home department official in the city government, Tablighi Jamaat-linked cases accounted for a total of 554 out of 903 cases. That number is expected to increase over the next few days and weeks when test results for 176 more people come in. They had been in the government’s quarantine facilities for some days and were shifted to hospitals after they developed symptoms.
The authorities concede, as they did at a meeting chaired by Lt Governor Anil Baijal yesterday, that there could be scores of others. They have no way to be certain. And there could be more Covid-19 clusters that originated at the Markaz, the Jamaat headquarters in Nizamuddin.
Three such clusters were identified on Friday and placed under a hard lockdown that bars people from stepping out of their homes. Instead, the authorities try to make arrangements to supply groceries and other essentials where possible.
Friday’s decision raises the total number of localities in containment zones to 30. There were a few other localities that were brought under containment strategy but the details had not been released to the media.