50 Coronavirus Cases From Delhi Event Behind Tamil Nadu's Sharpest Spike

Tamil Nadu recorded 57 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday including 50 who travelled to Delhi for a religious event in Nizamuddin.

Tamil Nadu has 124 coronavirus cases so far following the Nizamuddin spike.

Chennai:

Tamil Nadu on Tuesday registered 57 new COVID-19 cases, the highest spike in a single day so far, including 50 who had travelled to Delhi to attend a religious congregation earlier this month, the government said.

The total number of coronavirus cases stood at 124 in Tamil Nadu, with at least 77 of them having links to the congregation held in the national capital's Nizamuddin area recently.

All of those tested positive on Tuesday have been admitted to medical college hospitals in Kanyakumari, Tirunelveli, Chennai and Namakkal and are stable, Health Secretary Dr Beela Rajesh said.

The Health Secretary said 1,131 people who took part in the meet in Delhi had returned. About 615 of them have been traced and 516 are yet to be located. The Chief Secretary however put the figure at around 300.

The government also said efforts are being made to "isolate" all the participants of the conference from Tamil Nadu soon to stem the further spread of the contagion.

The Markaz or centre of a Muslim religious group called Tabligh-e-Jamaat based in Delhi's Nizamuddin West has emerged as a hotspot of coronavirus as 24 people tested positive for COVID-19 following which the neighbourhood has been sealed and an FIR lodged against its cleric for violating government orders.

Six people from Telangana and one from Jammu and Kashmir, who attended the event, died due to COVID-19. Twenty-four attendees have tested positive in Delhi, six in Telangana, 10 in Andamans and one in Kashmir after attending the gathering besides 50 in Tamil Nadu.

The centre has said around 2,100 foreigners visited India for activities linked to the Jamaat since January 1 and all of them first reported at its headquarters in Nizamuddin.

In Delhi, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said 1,548 have been evacuated and 441 hospitalised after they showed its symptoms.

Ignoring all social distancing rules to avoid the deadly coronavirus, hundreds had been staying in the 100-year-old mosque complex, which has a six-floor dormitory, since March 8.

In a statement, Markaz Nizamuddin defended itself saying the event was cancelled when Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the "Janata Curfew" for March 22.

Members could not leave, it said, because trains were suddenly stopped. After that, it said, lockdowns ordered first by the Delhi government and then by the PM left the visitors stranded in the Markaz.

However, officials point out that long before the lockdowns, the Delhi government had called for suspending all gatherings, religious, cultural or social on March 13. Parliament, however, remained open till March 24.