GUWAHATI, April 1 - As many as 16 persons in Assam � all participants at the Tablighi Jamaat congregation at Markaz Nizamuddin last month � have tested positive for COVID-19, sounding an alarm in the State health department which went on an overdrive to trace 347 others who attended the religious meet and returned to the State last month.
Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said while the Government of India sent a list of 456 people from Assam who were present in and around Nizamuddin during the period, from different sources the State got another list of 91 who were there, taking the total number to 547.
�However, after preliminary investigation, it came to light that 134 people have been passing through the area at that time as the list was based on mobile tower location and hence they are out of suspicion, but are still under observation. 68 have not returned to Assam,� he said.
But of the 347 who have returned, the government has been able to trace only 230 so far and they have been quarantined. The mobile phones of others are switched off and their families are not cooperating, the Minister said, adding that by tonight �the government will get them�.
�The health department has so far collected samples of 196 of the 230 people traced and have sent them to different labs. 44 samples were sent to GMCH and four turned out to be positive for COVID-19,� Sarma said. Among the 68 persons who have not returned, four have also tested positive for COVID-19 at Delhi so far.
Four COVID-19 positive persons identified in the State are Arshad Ali (19) of Nalbari, Md Hajrat Ali (60) of Jagiroad, Md Nuruddin (55) of Jagiroad and Md Junab Ali (46) of Jagiroad. They are now under treatment and are said to be stable.
The Jorhat Deputy Commissioner late tonight stated that results of tests of eight patients from Golaghat, suspected of suffering from the disease, have also tested positive for the virus. In another update, three persons from Goalpara attending the religious event in Delhi were tested positive. In the first case from Assam, 52-year-old Maulana Md Jamaluddin of Karimganj who tested positive last evening had travelled to Delhi on March 5.
�He is a diabetic and cancer patient, but was leading a normal life. He reached Delhi on March 6 and participated in the Markaz congregation till March 10, before returning in Rajdhani Express to Guwahati on March 11. At Guwahati, he stayed at the Kabarstan Masjid, Athgaon for a night and then returned to Badarpur on Rajdhani Express the next day,� the Health Minister said.
Contact-tracing at Athgaon has led to three persons, and samples were collected from all and sent for tests. One of them is from Morigaon.
He travelled with a person to Badarpur and his samples have been collected as well.
A total of 13 persons were directly in touch with the Maulana have been traced and quarantined, but he is not able to reveal much due to severe cough.
Screenings of many other samples are also positive for coronavirus and have been sent for further confirmatory tests.
�The State has now entered into a critical stage. All such people who had visited Nizamuddin have to reveal themselves� which will be better for their families and the society,� the Minister said.
The government has begun a massive contact-tracing drive to trace all those people who might have come into contact with the suspected cases.