Nine persons in Ahmednagar, including two foreign nationals, and four in Pune, tested positive for the novel coronavirus on Thursday, adding to the increasing number of cases across the country linked to the TablighI Jamaat meeting in Delhi.




As the COVID-19 count in the state touched 423 on Thursday, with 88 fresh cases and 22 deaths so far, authorities in Maharashtra began the process of setting up a mass quarantine facility in Mumbai for the contacts of those who had in mid-March attended the Nizamuddin Tablighi Jamaat congregation in New Delhi, which has become one of the biggest hotspots for cluster transmissions in India.

Nine persons in Ahmednagar, including two foreign nationals, and four in Pune, tested positive for the novel coronavirus on Thursday, adding to the increasing number of cases across the country linked to the Tablighi Jamaat meeting in Delhi.

Acting on the Union Home Ministry’s directive, the state has so far identified around 1,400 people across Maharashtra who had attended the congregation, said Public Health Minister Rajesh Tope.

The facility will come up at Bombay Exhibition Centre (NESCO Ground) at Goregaon East for quarantining those who
came in contact with the 442 Tablighis traced so far in Mumbai and the surrounding satellite townships, officials said. “We have so far been able to trace 1,300 people, and the process of quarantining them has started with the help of NGOs, National Service Scheme and police,” Tope said.

According to numbers officially released by the public health department late Thursday, 1,026 people from Maharashtra who had attended the Delhi congregation have been traced. Across the state, 576 people who visited Delhi for the Jamaat have so far been quarantined for testing. From Mumbai alone, 126 people had visited the Nizamuddin mosque and have been quarantined.

Those who have been traced have been quarantined in hotels and lodges in each district, and the public health department is now in the midst of the challenging process of identifying all who came into contact with each of them.

In Mumbai alone, the number of contacts is expected to run into thousands. Sources said, the mass quarantining of the contacts will take place at the Goregaon (East) facility, which is spread over 60,000 sq m.

For this purpose, a temporary shelter set up for the homeless and stranded migrant workers at the NESCO ground was shifted to another site in Bandra in the afternoon. At the time of shifting, 12 homeless people, including 10 men and two women, were at the facility. “We shifted them in a BEST bus to a new site,” said a senior official, who is in charge of the temporary shelter. The government staff tasked with running and monitoring work of the shelter was also moved to the new location.

“We needed a designated quarantining facility for contacts of those who had attended the congregation. It had to be a spacious facility considering the scale of the exercise. NESCO ground was found to be the most suitable,” a senior civic official said.

Of the total number of people who have tested positive in the state, 235 are from Mumbai. In Pune, five more people, unrelated to the Tablighi Jamaat, tested positive, taking the total number of infected people in the city to 60.

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