Disaster at Delhi’s Tablighi meet: How Covid-19 spread from here

NEW DELHI: In the first week of March, the Tablighi Jamaat held a religious congregation at the New Delhi headquarters. More than 1,000 people participated. Some of the participants, including senior preachers, had come from countries like Saudi Arabia, Malaysia and Indonesia where Covid-19 had already spread.
After attending the congregation, the participants left for various states. Some of them later developed symptoms of Covid-19 but that went unnoticed until a 65-year-old man, resident of Jammu and Kashmir, died on Thursday.
Later, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Kerala, West Bengal—states where the participants had visited—also reported cases linked directly or indirectly to the congregation.
Overall, as on Monday, 20 people across states who were linked to the congregation had been confirmed positive for Covid-19 and as many as 1,000 are under watch for disease symptoms.
About Tablighi Jamaat’s headquarters
The four-storey building, known as Banglewali Masjid, is situated close to the dargah of Sufi saint Nizamuddin Auliya and Ghalib Academy in Nizamuddin West, south Delhi. It is a tall building with one narrow iron gate for entry. Flung open, it reveals a mini colony —a sprawling pool (wuzukhana) where people prepare for religious discourse, crammed rooms, a huge kitchen and shoe racks. The first floor has a huge hall with thousands of people sitting there to listen to the preaching by an elderly man.
On Monday, sources said, nearly a thousand people were present in the building, many of them from other countries.
More on Covid-19
Delhi data
Of the 25 cases reported in Delhi on Monday, 18 were those who attended congregation. This includes two foreign nationals.
About 300 people involved directly or indirectly with the congregation are under observation at Lok Nayak Hospital.
Glaring lapses
* Tablighi Jamaat event stopped only after lockdown came into effect. Prior to that, no steps taken by authorities to stop people from gathering in large numbers.
* Nothing done to scan foreigners and visitors for Covid-19 traces.
* No alarm bells raised even after people who attended event fell ill in other states.
* No medical camps set up to scan residents of the area.
What Delhi corporation is doing
Team of 54 workers and tankers deployed; 30,000 litres of disinfectants used.
Screening camp set up in front of Tablighi Jamaat headquarters to check people with symptoms.
The challenges
20,000+ residents in area; a large number of people from across the country visit Nizamuddin Sufi shrine
Narrow and congested lanes
Contact tracing harder because huge floating population in shrines.
What cops are doing
* Entire area cordoned off; only health and authorised personnel can enter or exit
* List of people who stayed in guesthouses or dormitories being scanned
* Drones pressed into service, locals been asked to stay indoor

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