India, Pakistan probe group emerging as coronavirus cluster, Latest World News - The New Paper

India, Pakistan probe group emerging as coronavirus cluster

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NEW DELHI/LAHORE: India and Pakistan sealed off centres belonging to a Muslim missionary group on Tuesday and began investigating how many cases were linked to its activities.

Tablighi Jamaat is a Deobandi Sunni Muslim missionary movement that preaches worldwide.

Every year, tens of thousands attend its congregations in the Pakistani city of Lahore and other parts of South Asia.

India has so far registered 32 deaths from 1,251 confirmed infections, and Pakistan 20 from 1,914.

New Delhi's city administration has flagged a Muslim quarter where the 100-year-old group has a branch as a coronavirus hotspot after dozens of people tested positive for the virus there and at least seven died.

The authorities said people kept visiting the centre, in a five-storey building in a neighbourhood of narrow, winding lanes, from other parts of the country and abroad, and that it had preached sermons to large groups despite government orders on social distancing.

Hundreds of people were crammed into the building until the weekend, when authorities began taking them out for testing. More buses arrived on Tuesday to take them away to quarantine centres in another part of the city.

"It looks like social distancing and quarantine protocols were not practised here," the city administration said in a statement.

"The administrators violated these conditions and several cases of corona-positive patients have been found ... By this gross act of negligence, many lives have been endangered... This is nothing but a criminal act."

The authorities are trying to trace the movements of people who had gathered at the Tablighi centres in Delhi and Lahore and the people who were exposed to them. - REUTERS