Three days ago, Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao expressed the hope that the state could be Covid19 free by 7 April. He had arrived at that date because by 6 April, all the people who had been quarantined either due to foreign travel or contact with a Corona Virus positive person, would be deemed safe.
But then came the Tablighi Jamaat bombshell that has completely altered the calculations. Six people have died in the last 48 hours and all of them have the Delhi connection, having attended the meeting in Nizamuddin in mid-March.
That’s not all. Of the 1030 people from Telangana – over 600 of them from Hyderabad alone – who attended the meeting in Delhi, 22 have tested Corona positive and so have 19 of their family members.
While the process of tracking the delegates is still on, the Telangana government believes that the 14-day quarantine period will be over on 2 April as most persons returned home on 20 March. But is it safe to give a blanket clean chit and assume no one is at risk in Telangana?
There are other questions as well. Telangana government was aware of the TJ connection to the state as 8 Indonesian members who had travelled to Karimnagar tested positive on 18 March. This group had come to Telangana from Delhi on 14 March. The Health ministry swiftly identified the train coach in which the group had travelled from Delhi to Telangana and identified the other passengers. But did it miss out on identifying the other 1000-odd Telanganites who too would have mingled with the crowd in Nizamuddin Markaz area?
In fact, till Tuesday, the government was not aware that a section officer in the Animal Husbandry ministry too had attended the meeting.
In neighbouring Andhra Pradesh, 711 persons travelled to Delhi, of who 85 have not yet been tracked down. The remaining 626 have been put in quarantine and are under observation.
Almost all of these delegates returned home to Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu by train. Which means it is not just the co-passengers in the train compartment they travelled in who could be at risk, but anyone at any station platform who would have come in contact with a potential Corona positive person. This large mass could include vendors, hawkers, porters, ticket checkers. The task of identifying so many would be mammoth.
The result of the Delhi disclosures has been that most mosques in both Telugu states have been completely shut. A sense of unease has gripped the Muslim community given that there were people from just about every district who travelled to Nizamuddin. In Andhra Pradesh, Kurnool had the maximum representation with 252 delegates, followed by Guntur and Kadapa.