7 more test +ve for COVID-19 in Kashmir, tally surges to 56
JAMMU, Mar 31: Around 135 cadre of Tablighi Jamaat who had attended the organization’s international congregation at Nizamuddin in New Delhi are being aggressively searched and subjected to medical examination across Jammu region amidst reports that some of them might have been infected by Coronavirus as numbers of people from different States of the country who were part of the function have tested positive for COVID-19 while some others including one hailing from Kashmir have died.
Official sources told the Excelsior that the administration across the region after obtaining list from the Centre has started aggressive search for all the persons affiliated with Tablighi Jammat who had attended Nizamuddin congregation to subject them to medical check-up and isolate, if advised by the doctors.
Forty of them hailed from the twin border districts of Poonch and Rajouri alone.
District Magistrate Kathua O P Bhagat told the Excelsior tonight that he has ordered registration of FIR for initiation of criminal proceedings against seven Tablighi Jamaat activists for hiding their travel history despite visiting and staying at Nizammudin in New Delhi.
All seven Tablighi Jamaat activists were identified today, picked up from their houses and lodged in ASHA Workers’ District Training Centre at Nagri Parole in Kathua for quarantine by civil and police administration. They are being charged with causing danger to the lives of other people by hiding their travel history.
District Magistrate Poonch Rahul Yadav told the Excelsior that out of 18 Tablighi Jamaat cadre from the district, who had attended the congregation, all but one have been traced after day-long hectic efforts by civil and police administration with the help of medical teams and locals.
“They are undergoing medical check-up,’’ Yadav said.
District Magistrate Rajouri Nazir Ahmad Sheikh said teams have fanned out in different areas to track down 22 Tablighi Jamaat activists who were present in the congregation and expressed confidence that they will be traced by tomorrow.
“Civil and police administration have undertaken similar exercise in all 10 districts of Jammu region. While majority of Tablighi Jamaat cadre have been traced, few others are still missing,’’ sources said, adding that all of them are expected to be traced by tomorrow.
Authorities have issued directions to all District Magistrate and District SPs to conduct medical check-up of all Tablighi Jamaat cadre who had attended Nizamuddin congregation and anyone found symptomatic to Coronavirus should be immediately isolated and sent to designated COVID hospitals. If required, their family members will also be sent for quarantine, they said, adding it has become necessary as at least six persons who had attended the congregation at Nizamuddin have died in Telangana and one in the Kashmir valley while several others have been tested positive for COVID-19.
A Srinagar-based businessman who attended the Tablighi Jamaat congregation in Nizamuddin travelled by air, train and road to Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and back to Jammu and Kashmir before he died of COVID-19, raising fears he may have infected many others along the way, sources said. Among his possible victims is a doctor battling for life in a Jammu hospital.
The businessman died on March 26 in a Srinagar hospital, 19 days after he set off for the national capital.
He could have infected scores of people during his travels and about 300 people have been put under quarantine because of him, sources said.
Recapping his movements, they said he left by air from Srinagar to Delhi on March 7 to attend the congregation of the Tablighi Jamaat, Muslim organization at the centre of the Coronavirus spread with 24 of the 2,000 odd participants testing positive.
Being referred to as a “super spreader” by some, officials said the Kashmiri businessman left Delhi on March 9 and took a sleeper coach of a train for Deoband, where he attended a meeting at the Darul Uloom seminary. Two days later, on March 11, he took another train to Jammu.
Tracking the travel history of the man, who was in his mid-60s, officials said many of the passengers travelling with him in the trains have been put under quarantine after authorities dug out their details.
In Jammu, the businessman met up with his doctor friend and both addressed a religious congregation in a mosque in Samba on the outskirts of the city.
The two were together till March 16 and stayed at a lodge, since sealed, in Bari Brahmana outside Jammu city.
The doctor, now in a Jammu hospital in a critical condition, belongs to Rajouri district of Jammu region, sources said. At least 45 people from his area have been quarantined.
On March 16, the businessman, little suspecting that he might be a full blown case of COVID-19 and a carrier of the virus, took a flight to Srinagar from where he drove to Sopore in north Kashmir, about 54 km away. Two days later, he returned to his home in Srinagar, again by road.
“He complained of chest pain and normal flu on March 21 and was taken to a nearby hospital and later to the super specialty SKIMS hospital in Soura on the outskirts of Srinagar,” an official said.
Doctors were initially of the opinion that he had a pollen allergy, common in Kashmir during spring. The next day, however, his condition deteriorated and he was shifted to the Chest and Disease Hospital in the city where he died on March 26.
The elderly gentleman was the first Coronavirus fatality in Jammu and Kashmir, which has reported 55 cases including two deaths.
As news spread about the death, officials began tracking his movements closely. He is believed to have spread the virus to at least four people from Bandipora district who had attended his Sopore congregation and maybe more as well.
The passenger lists of the flights on which he travelled were also pulled out and every individual was picked up and put under necessary quarantine, they said, adding the two doctors who had examined him were also taken for quarantine.
Authorities across the country have swung into action to trace the contacts of those who attended the Tablighi Jamaat congregation, attended by hundreds of people, including from Malaysia, Saudi Arabia and Indonesia.
Meanwhile, a doctor of Microbiology Department of the Government Medical College (GMC) Jammu, who was yesterday tested positive for COVID-19, was part of the team of doctors engaged in testing people for Coronavirus.
His family today released orders of the Microbiology Department which clearly mentioned name of the doctor in duty roster for testing of Coronavirus patients.
Yesterday, a senior doctor of the Microbiology Department had stated that the doctor tested positive for Coronavirus was not part of the testing team to which family members of the doctor reacted strongly.
Meanwhile, total number of COVID-19 positive patients till this evening in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir stood at 55—12 from Jammu division and 43 from Kashmir. No positive case was reported from Jammu region today.
Authorities have so far collected 861 samples for test of COVID-19 and 804 of them have tested negative and 55 positive while report in two cases was awaited. There have been two deaths and two patients have recovered.
A total of 9895 patients were under home quarantine, 51 in hospital isolation, 350 in hospital quarantine, 3334 in home surveillance and 1371 have completed their surveillance.
Meanwhile, District Magistrate Udhampur Piyush Singla today declared several villages as Containment/Red Zones and Buffer Zones and restricted in an out movement of civilians there following detection of four cases of Coronavirus positive in the districts.
The villages of Kotli Pain, Mangiote, Rakh Sansoo, Paaanoo, Chopra Shop area of village Rhembal and Mohra Duggar of village Jib have been declared as Containment/Red Zones while their all surrounding villages were declared as Buffer Zones.
“There will be no inward or outward movement of any person from these villages and people will stay at their homes. There will be complete lockdown in these villages with no vehicular movement on internal lanes or roads connecting villages. The Tehsildar, SHO and TSOs of the areas will ensure supply of essential commodities to the people as per laid down protocols,” Singla said.
Meanwhile, police today detained 33 labourers and sent them to a hospital for check-up after they were trying to enter Doda district despite a country-wide lockdown, officials said.
Two groups of labourers were trying to sneak into the Union Territory’s Bhaderwah town from Punjab and Himachal Pradesh, through snow covered Chattergalla and Padri Pass despite the lockdown to check the spread of Coronavirus, they said.
“Chattergalla Pass on Bhaderwah-Pathankot road and Padri on Bhaderwah-Chamba road have been closed but the 33 labourers tried to enter Bhaderwah,” the officials said.
Informed by the locals about the presence of some suspicious persons near Nalthi and Thanalla village, Bhaderwah police and civil administration immediately detained the two groups of labourers and sent them to Sub District Hospital for the check-up of COVID-19 symptoms, the officials said.
Bhaderwah town of Doda district borders Himachal Pradesh’s Chamba district in the South.
Another group of 80 labourers reached Surankote from Kashmir via Mughal road during last 24 hours and were sent to quarantine centres.
At Lakhanpur, the gateway to Jammu and Kashmir in Kathua district, police detained about a dozen persons who were trying to enter the Union Territory from river Ravi following closure of inter-State movement. They were sent to quarantine centres.
The trucks carrying essential commodities were allowed to cross Lakhanpur.
About 50 persons turned up at Lakhanpur for crossing into Jammu and Kashmir but were denied permission.
Meanwhile, for 12th consecutive day today, no COVID-19 positive patient was reported from the Union Territory of Ladakh.
Commissioner/Secretary Health, Ladakh Rigzin Samphel today said a total of 50 reports of COVID-19 test samples were received from New Delhi and all of them were negative including 18 from Leh district and 32 from Kargil,
Health condition of 10 positive cases in Ladakh including eight of Leh and two from Kargil is stable, Samphel said.
He added that the District Magistrates of Leh and Kargil have issued an advisory calling upon all people who have returned to Ladakh with travel history of foreign countries between 25.2.2020 to 24.3.2020, to inform the respective Magistrates.