Coronavirus Outbreak: Pakistan places Raiwind city under complete lockdown after 40 Tablighi Jamaat preachers test positive
According to Pakistan government, in March the Tablighi Jamaat went ahead with its annual congregation in Raiwind, Lahore against its advice that the gathering might spread the virus.
Lahore: Pakistan authorities have placed the entire city of Raiwind under quarantine, shutting down all general and medical stores, and completely restricted the mobility of people within or outside the city after at least 40 Tablighi Jamaat preachers tested positive, officials said on Thursday.
Similarly, some 50 members of the Jamaat, including five Nigerian women, suspected to be carriers of coronavirus , are admitted to a quarantine centre in Kasur, some 50 km from Lahore.
In Hyderabad city of Sindh province, 38 coronavirus cases of local transmission among members of the Tablighi Jamaat were reported on Thursday.
There are reports that the Sindh and Punjab police have picked some members of the Jamaat from the mosques and its Raiwind Markaz (headquarters of the Pakistani faction of Jamaat) and locked up in the police stations in connection with violation of the lockdown.
According to the government, in March the Tablighi Jamaat went ahead with its annual congregation in Raiwind, Lahore against its advice that the gathering might spread the virus.
Pakistani authorities had urged the cancellation of the five-day Tablighi congregation, which was attended by thousands of people from several countries.
"The government's apprehensions stood true as several Tablighi Jamaat activists have tested positive for coronavirus and they caused spread of it,î Lahore Deputy Commissioner Danish Afzaal said in a statement.
He said the Raiwind Tablighi Jamaat Markez is presently housing approximately 600 preachers.
"The health teams have so far sent samples of around 110 of them for lab analysis and of them, 41 preachers have been tested positive for
COVID-19 ," he said, adding the Jamaat preachers have been quarantined in mosques and their centres in different districts.
"The mobility of people within or outside Raiwind town has completely been restricted through the deployment of police and personnel of security agencies," he said.
Tablighi Jamaat members have emerged as the prime suspects among potential coronavirus carriers, not just in Pakistan but in India, Malaysia and Brunei.
In India, the Jamaat has come under severe criticism for defying the lockdown and organising a congregation. Fifty-three people who took part in the Jamaat congregation in south Delhi's Nizamuddin Markaz last month have tested positive for coronavirus till now.
In Middle East, Gaza's first two confirmed coronavirus patients had also attended the Jamaat congregation in Pakistan.
In Pakistan, the COVID-19 patients number spiked to 2,250 with 32 deaths till Thursday afternoon. Punjab has most 845 cases followed by Sindh 709.
Meanwhile, the Pakistan Muslim League-Q, a coalition partner of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government, and opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz have lent its support to the Tablighi Jamaat condemning the government action against it and demanded respect for its members.
Punjab Assembly Speaker Parvez Elahi said propaganda against Jamaat should be stopped forthwith. 'It is such a Jamaat whose Tabligh (preaching) has not caused chaos anywhere ever. Its members are recognised as ambassadors of peace."
Elahi said those members of the Jamaat who had been picked from the mosques and locked up in the police stations should immediately be released and shifted to the mosques or Tablighi centres and these mosques and centres be quarantined and ration and facilities should be arranged for them.
PML-N president and Opposition Leader in the National Assembly has also condemned police action against Jamaat members. ìThe Tableeghi Jamaat members should be given respect,î he demanded.
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