New Delhi: As many as 1,548 people from Nizamuddin Markaz mosque have been shifted to various hospitals and quarantine facilities Tuesday evening after 24 cases from the area were found to be positive for the highly-infectious novel coronavirus.
Police officials wearing hazmat suits (decontamination suits) have cordoned off the area, where over 300 people are to be yet to be moved to hospitals or quarantine facilities.
Drones flying overhead have also been monitoring the movement of people outside and those inside the mosque to ensure no one trespasses the boundaries drawn with chalk.
“Doctors are not going inside the premises. They have set up a tent outside the Markaz and are doing their check-ups there. No one is venturing into the Markaz area, and we are hoping to finish the operation soon,” said a police officer.
After a brief check up, patients were moved into DTC buses in batches of 30 and driven to hospitals or isolation facilities. The DTC buses were being sanitised before and after the pick-up and drop.
Those with symptoms — 441 of the 1,548 — are reportedly being taken to either Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan Hospital, Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital and Govind Ballabh Pant Hospital or being kept in government quarantine facilities for observation.
Coronavirus scare in Nizamuddin
Between 12 March and 13 March, over 2,000 people from all over the world had attended an event held by the Tablighi Jamaat, a non-political global Sunni Islamic missionary organisation.
On Monday, 24 positive cases were detected and 7 virus-related deaths were traced to the event held at the mosque.
A spokesperson of the mosque issued a statement, saying they were forced to host stranded guests after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a countrywide lockdown on 24 March.
An FIR against Maulana Saad Kandalwi and others of the mosque has been registered under the Epidemic Diseases Act. The case was registered on the orders of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal for violating government directives on social gatherings and overlooking measures such as social distancing.
Homeless not worried
Nearly 400 houses in the Nizamuddin basti have been kept under observation, but those residing meters away on the sidewalk are not worried about being infected.
“We are not worried since we did not go into the basti or the dargah. The doctors have not come to check us either, so why should we worry?,” said 65-year-old Mohamed Hashim Ansari, who runs a tea stall adjacent to the dargah.
(With inputs from Aneesha Bedi)