Naveen Patnaik urges Jamaat returnees to get tested for Covid-19

Chasing the Nizamuddin Markaz trail is proving to be a challenge for the state government which has decided to reach out to religious leaders to get those who attended Tablighi Jamaat at Nizamuddin, New Delhi and their relatives to get tested.

In a special appeal, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Saturday requested everyone who had attended the congregation in Nizamuddin to come forward voluntarily, assuring them and their family full protection.

“Corona is currently the biggest threat to the human race and to beat it we all need to come together to beat it. Only through awareness we can break the chain of corona virus. While there is no need to panic but we do need to be careful. Your cooperation will for the betterment of your own family and the human race,’ said the CM’s statement.

According to the government 68 people had attended the event mid-march, which has now turned out to be a significant reason for the spike in positive cases. Of these only 28 have made it back to their homes before the nation-wide lock down. They have all been tested, and three were found to be positive, one each in Puri, Cuttack and Jajpur.

The fear of social ostracization, in an increasingly polarised coverage of this event, is forcing many of them not step forward with information say administrators. However, this is proving to be a huge challenge particularly since many of them live in densely populated areas, sharing homes with more than one sibling and their respective families.

Speakig to ET, Mohammed Moquim, Congress MLA from Barabati-Cuttack, said he had personally been reaching out to every senior of the community and had even spoken to those who had been tested to reassure them that this was in every one’s best interest, including their families. Moquim, rightly points out that there was no clarity on reporting oneself if one had returned from another state until very recently.

“Day before yesterday, the Anjuman (the state’s leading Muslim religious organisation) called for a mohalla committee meeting and all masjids were told that prayers had to conducted by the muezzin (the man who calls the ‘azaan’) and the maulvi. Even Friday ‘jummah’ can’t be attended by more than five people, and that is being respected,” said the MLA.

Odisha saw a three-fold in positive cases overnight on Saturday, partly from new cases related to an elderly Hindu gentleman with no travel history and with no connection to Nizamuddin. Three who had returned from Nizamuddin and another three in Bhubaneswar were also found to be positive.

With these new cases, and a very real fear of local transmission, the state’s moved quickly into the next gear. Bhubaneswar and 18 surrounding gram panchayats, Cuttack and Bhadrak were already under complete curfew until Sunday 8pm, the industrial district of Jajpur was also shut down on Saturday.

The administration also further barricaded several areas including Brahmabarada village in Jajpur district where in late February a World Muslim Conference had been held and attended by and estimated 30,000 including Maulana Muhammad Saad Kandhalvi, the national chief of Tablighi Jamaat. The police is showing no mercies, and as warned has packed off violators to state quarantine centres for 14 days.

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