Quarantine Tableeghi Jamaat members wherever they are, IG Sindh tells police

Web Desk
Worshippers board a truck before their departure from the annual Tableeghi Ijtema in Raiwind near Lahore, Pakistan, March 13, 2020. AFP/Arif Ali/Files

KARACHI: People from religious gatherings and those associated with the Tableeghi Jamaat are to be quarantined wherever they were, Sindh Inspector-General of Police Mushtaq Ahmed Mehar told police officials on Tuesday. 

The directions from Sindh's top police officer came after it emerged that there were members of the Tableeghi Jamaat in several districts of the city. 

The marakiz, or centres, where the people of the Tableeghi Jamaat — or proselytizers — were present at the moment should be considered as quarantine facilities, the instructions added, advising them to stay where they were. 

Related: Raiwind under complete lockdown after 27 in religious gathering test positive

The instructions came shortly after Raiwind city near Lahore was put under a full-fledged lockdown after 27 of the 50 people suspected to have contracted the coronavirus tested positive and more than 2,200 were still present at the Tableeghi Jamaat gathering.

Mehar instructed police to ensure that no new person entered these centres and the senior superintendents of police (SSPs) were to contact the provincial health department's representatives in this regard.

IG Mehar also directed officers to make arrangements to provide rations — food and other basic necessities — to members of the Tableeghi Jamaat who would henceforth be under quarantine. Information on more people part of the Tableeghi Jamaat and other marakiz in their respective areas was also to be obtained and shared to his operations room, he added.

Also read: Palestinian coronavirus patients attended religious gathering in Pakistan last month

The top police official noted that contact-tracing must be done for those who were outside of the centres as well in order to make sure the virus did not spread to other people.

Earlier today, 54 of the 200 Tableeghi Jamaat members in Hyderabad had tested positive for the novel virus, a health department official said, taking the city's total to 57 and the province's to 627.

Some 830 individuals associated with the Tableeghi Jamaat were in Hyderabad, a local media outlet quoted DIG Naeem Shaikh as saying.

A day prior, two people who had returned to Karachi after attending the "Raiwand Ijtima" had died of the coronavirus, according to the Sindh health department. They also "had underlying renal & respiratory diseases".

Read more: Malaysia says Islamic event linked to virus cases, days after 250,000 gathered in Pakistan

Mid-March, at least 250,000 people had congregated in camps near Lahore for the annual, five-day Tablighi Ijtema congregation, ignoring government warnings that such events could propagate the novel coronavirus pandemic. The event was later curtailed.

At the time, Ehsanullah — one of the event's organisers — had told AFP that although most had gone home, "still tens of thousands of people are here" and others would return.

"Our elders and organisers decided that the gathering will proceed as planned," Ehsanullah had said.