NEW DELHI, March 31 - Authorities launched a nationwide search on Tuesday for participants of a huge religious congregation held earlier this month in the national capital�s Nizamuddin area, which has become the new epicentre of the deadly virus pandemic amid fears that thousands present there could have carried the infection to the length and breadth of the country.
Thousands of participants of the Tablighi Jamaat held in mid-March in Nizamuddin, which also is home to a famous Dargah, are known to have returned to their homes in virtually every state including Telangana, West Bengal, Karnataka and Gujarat. Many of these states have reported COVID-19 cases linked to the Tablighi Jamaat.
Several fresh cases of infection were reported on Tuesday from Delhi, Maharashtra, Kerala, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Jammu and Kashmir and Bihar, among other places, taking the nationwide tally to 1,397 with at least 35 deaths.
At least 24 people who took part in the Nizamuddin congregation have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said, as he slammed the organisers for being �highly irresponsible� on their part to hold such an event at this time.
The Union Home Ministry said approximately 2,100 foreigners visited India for �tabligh� activities this year, including those from Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Nepal, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Kyrgyzstan.
It also said that all state police have been asked to locate Indian Tabligh Jamaat workers from local coordinators, followed by their medical screening and quarantine.
So far, 2137 such people have been identified and are being medically examined and quarantined, while more would be located, the Ministry said. � PTI