Chennai: With a Tablighi Jamaat congregation in a Delhi locality becoming an epicentre for COVID-19 spread across India, southern states are hurrying to identify and possibly isolate those who attended the meeting, with Tamil Nadu and Telangana alone accounting for over 2,000 people.
While Telangana saw six fatalities, all of whom attended the congregation in Nizamuddin West in Delhi last month, Tamil Nadu witnessed the steepest increase in the daily number of COVID-19 positive cases on Tuesday at 57, taking the aggregate to 124.
Of the 57 positive cases, 50 had attended the event.
Other states are also keeping an eye on those having returned home after their Delhi visit, even as Tamil Nadu appealed to the untraceable persons to voluntarily turn up before the authorities concerned for further medical action.
Nizamuddin West, a south Delhi locality,has emerged as an epicentre for the spread of coronavirus in different parts of the country after thousands of people took part in the Tablighi Jamaat congregation from March 1-15.
In Delhi alone, 24 participants tested positive for the disease while 441 others were hospitalised after they showed symptoms.
Incidentally, Telangana and Tamil Nadu have received telling blows as a fallout, with the former recording six COVID-19 deaths on a single day on Monday.
The Telangana administration has estimated that over 1,000 people from the state might have attended the Nizamuddin congregation in the national capital.
Two of the six had died at the Gandhi Hospital in Hyderabad, one each in two private hospitals, and one each in Nizamabad and Gadwal towns.
Special teams under District Collectors have identified those who came in contact with the deceased and they have been shifted to hospitals, according to the government.
Tamil Nadu witnessed the steepest single-day spike in the number of positive coronavirus cases in the state on Tuesday.
As many as 50 of the 57 positive cases had attended the Nizamuddin congregation, even as the government scampered to identify the rest, some of whom are untraceable so far.
Chief Minister K Palaniswami said 1,131 men have returned of the about 1,500 people who went for the event.
"About 515 people have been identified...others who took part in the meet should voluntarily get in touch with the authorities...we have not got the addresses of others fully," he said, apparently indicating that their whereabouts could not be ascertained so far.
He said while a section could not be contacted yet, others have been quarantined in Delhi.
Considering the severity of COVID-19 and its potential to adversely impact society at large, returnees should approach the authorities so that they could be tested and treated if needed, he said.
The government has already said that several district administrations could not establish contact with many returnees, even as the police department was also working to trace them.
The National Health Mission, Tamil Nadu, has appealed to 'Tablighi Jamaat brothers' to contact health authorities immediately at specific phone numbers as the participants of the conference might be at risk of contracting coronavirus.
Andhra Pradesh reported 43 new cases of coronavirus on Wednesday, most of which relate to the Tablighi Jamaat congregation, officials said.
While the Karnataka government has so far identified 78 people "associated" with the Nizmauddin event,Kerala has also zeroed in on all those who travelled to Delhi for the event.
According to Karnataka Additional Chief Secretary Health and Family Welfare department, Jawaid Akhtar, anybody who has attended the event should contact the authorities.
He said 78 people from the state associated with Tablighi Jamaat have been identified and quarantined.
"We are not sure whether all of them attended the congregation held earlier this month, but as they would have come in contact with those attended in one or the other, they have been put under government quarantine," he said.
With many of them claiming to have already completed 14 days of quarantine, the government has decided to put them for COVID-19 test, he said, adding the 78 included some foreign nationals.
Meanwhile, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has said the government has collected the details of those who took part from the state in the recent religious congregations in Nizamuddin and Malaysia and it needs to be examined if they have any health issues.
"Police have already made detailed examination in this regard. The list of participants has been given through respective District Collectors. Necessary precautions will be made in the concerned districts in this regard," he said.
The government has the exact number of participants and the details of the districts they are hailing from, he added.
Puducherry, a union territory near Tamil Nadu,also reported two confirmed COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, with both persons having attended the congregation in Nizamuddin in March.