Coronavirus outbreak: Long-distance trains used by Tablighi Jamaat preachers IDed

Updated: Apr 03, 2020, 07:29 IST | Faizan Khan, Diwakar Sharma | Mumbai

Police are putting together travel histories of those at March meet in Delhi to identify passengers who came in contact with them

A firefighter sanitises an area near the Nizamuddin Markaz Mosque in New Delhi. PIC/PTI
A firefighter sanitises an area near the Nizamuddin Markaz Mosque in New Delhi. PIC/PTI

In a bid to arrest the further spread of Coronavirus, Maharashtra police have shared details of attendees of the congregation of Tablighi Jamaat at the Markaz Nizamuddin — a major Coronavirus hotspot — in New Delhi with Railway officials to zero down on the attendees' co-passengers. Over a dozen trains ply between Mumbai and Nizamuddin.

State Health Minister Rajesh Tope said that out of the 1,400 attendees, 1,300 have been traced and quarantined, with some having tested positive for COVID-19. But what is more worrying for the police and state government is tracing those who travelled with the attendees in the identified long-distance trains.

According to Mumbai police, around 150 of the attendees were supposed to come to the city. Most of them have been traced and put into self-quarantine. "We took their travel details and shared them with appropriate authorities. The Tablighi Jamaat's Markaz in Mumbai had details of every person who visited Nizamuddin. Only 20 of the 150 have not been traced as they didn't come to the city after the event," an officer said.

A deserted Nizamuddin Railway station in New Delhi. PIC/PTI
A deserted Nizamuddin Railway station in New Delhi

A senior railway official said that passengers' data is being procured from the Centre for Railway Information System (CRIS). "Details of passengers who have travelled from Nizamuddin to Mumbai are being procured from CRIS which maintains a central server. Getting data from CRIS will be easier, convenient and faster for the authorities," said a senior Railways official.

The official further added that there are over a dozen daily trains on Western Railway, including two Rajdhanis, between New Delhi/Nizamuddin and Mumbai. "I am not sure about how many passengers travelled from Nizamuddin to Mumbai. But if one passenger is found COVID-19 positive, the authorities concerned need the details of co-passengers so that they can be tracked down and quarantined or admitted to a hospital," the officer added.

An official from Central Railway said that there are two daily trains on Central Railway that go to New Delhi, while the Rajdhani goes four times a week.

A member of Tablighi Jamaat from the Mumbai headquarters told mid-day, "We are cooperating with the police and authorities. Most of the people came forward and isolated themselves. Similarly, all other Markaz in their respective districts have also shared the details with agencies and are helping them."

According to sources, health workers in Mumbai and adjacent areas were tasked with enquiring about symptoms with travellers between Nizamuddin/New Delhi and Mumbai between March 1 and 18. "We are yet to receive consolidated data of passengers. But those we contacted are not symptomatic. A few of them disconnected the calls without giving details. We will retrieve their address and health officials will visit them," said a senior health official.

The official requested passengers with the above travel history to come forward and get tested. "Self-isolation is very, very important. We request people to please cooperate and remain isolated for 14 days. Otherwise the number of infected will rise."

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