New Delhi: The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Wednesday said that coronavirus (COVID-19) cases may rise due to negligence and carelessness. The ministry said this with reference to the recent Markaz Nizamuddeen episode in Delhi.
Speaking at a press briefing, Joint Secretary of the Health Ministry Lav Agarwal said at least 386 new positive cases of novel coronavirus and three new deaths have been reported in the country, but it should not be looked as a trend. However, the number of cases might rise due to negligence and carelessness.
"Till now, there are 1637 COVID19 cases, including 386 new positive cases and three new deaths since yesterday. The main reason for increased number of cases is that members of Tablighi Jamaat have travelled across the country.
"As many as 38 deaths have been reported and 132 people have recovered," the Joint Health Secretary told media.
"1,800 people related to Tablighi Jamaat have been shifted to 9 hospitals and quarantine centres. However, the recent rise in the number of cases does not represent a national trend if compared with the previous trends in the country. But as we all know that naturally, cases will grow due to negligence and carelessness. This is our advice that any kind of congregation should be avoided. Social distancing measures should be followed 100 percent," said Agarwal.
Agarwal told media that 23 new confirmed cases from Jammu and Kashmir, 20 new cases from Telangana, 17 new cases from Andhra Pradesh, 9 new cases from Andaman and Nicobar,65 new cases from Tamil Nadu,18 new cases from Delhi, 2 new cases from Puducherry have been reported due transit-related history and additional sample testing is underway where the cases have spiked.
Agarwal also said that Railways is preparing to set up 3.2 lakh isolation and quarantine beds by modifying 20,000 coaches. Modification of 5000 coaches has begun though which 80,000 new isolation beds are expected.
"The civil aviation ministry has launched Lifeline flights to transport things like essential commodities, PPEs, testing kits, medicines and masks. 15.4 tons of medical supplies have already been transported in last five days," said Agarwal.
Agarwal also said that the Health Ministry has created an email id as per Supreme Court's direction which said that misinformation needs to be checked. "email@example.com is the email id through which a joint secretary-rank officer of Health Ministry and specialized doctors of AIIMS will provide technical support," he said.
Talking about the recent regulation on medicines and other medical devices, Agarwal told media that National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority issued a notice which said from April 1, 24 classes of medical devices will be regulated as drugs for quality control and price monitoring under the drug price control order of 2013. According to this notice, manufacturers of these devices cannot hike the MRP more than 10 percent of the previous year's rate. "This has been mandated so that price of medicines remain stable," said Agarwal.
The Chief Scientist of Indian Council of Medical Research, Dr. Raman Gangakhedkar, who was also present at the press conference, told media, "We have conducted 47,951 tests. There are 126 labs in ICMR network, 51 private labs have also been approved to conduct the test."
He also said that 4,562 tests have been conducted in government labs and the private labs have done 816 cases since yesterday. "We have used 38 per cent of our testing capacity," he said.
As many as 160 foreigners supposed to have "disappeared" from Nizammudin's Markaz Tablighi Jamaat's headquarters, the new epicentre of coronavirus infection in the national capital, have been found from Delhi, according to an intelligence report, which also says that five out of the 160 are women.
In addition, there are 13 Indian nationals, which takes the total count to 173. All of them had recently visited the Markaz headquarters, the intelligence report has said.
The report is prepared by the Special Intelligence Branch of Delhi Police. A copy of the report has also been shared with the Delhi Health Secretary. It clearly mentions the places where the people who had "disappeared" stayed.
The confidential report informs the Delhi health authorities that these people have visited the Tablighi Jamaat and that they could be the carriers of the dreaded coronavirus infection. It asks the health authorities to ensure that these "suspects" do not become part of any crowd, it said.
The reports about "disapperance" of some suspects from the Jamaat headquarters came on Tuesday following which an FIR was registered against six persons, including Maulana Mohammad Saad Kandhalvi, the chief of the Markaz Tablighi Jamaat. Five aides of Kandhalvi whose names were mentioned in the FIR, have also "disappeared".
Delhi Police's Crime Branch is investigating the matter.
The FIR also mentions those whom the Nizamuddin SHO had angrily asked to remove the crowd on March 23-24 in a video which has now gone viral. Despite the SHO's strict warnings, the crowd comprising hundreds of Markaz followers refused to vacate the place.
The confidential report mentions 14 places where information about the "disappeared" Jamaat followers can be collected. The first name among these places is C-Block Rajiv Nagar, Bhalswa Dairy, where eight Indians (four men and four women) have been found. All of them had visited the Markaz headquarters a few days back.
The second place mentioned in the report is Lal Kuan, Chungi Number-2, Pul Prahladpur, from where nine Indonesians and two Indian nationals have been found. All of them had been to the Markaz headquarters around the time the corona fear surfaced.
The report says the areas where the Tablighi followers had been "hiding" are public places, where social distancing -- the key factor against the spread of coronavirus --is almost impossible. According to the report, most of 120 foreigners lodged at 14 places are Indonesians."
The report says 160 people from seven countries have been found to be lodged in these public places. These nationals belong to Malaysia, Algeria, Tunisia, Belgium, Italy and Kyrgyzstan. Besides the 160 foreigners, there are 13 Indians, the report added.
The Special Branch report says most of the foreign-origin nationals whose travel history is traced to the Markaz headquarters, lived together at Chandni Mahal. Out of the 21 foreigners, 10 are from Indonesia, seven from Algeria, one each from Tunisia, Belgium and Italy and one from India.
"In a similar manner, in north-east Delhi's Wazirabad area, 12 Indonesians, as well as two Indians, have been found from Gully Number 9, under Wazirabad police station," said the report. All of them had been to the Markaz headquarters recently.
It said 13 nationals from Kyrgyzstan have been found from Malviya Nagar's Hauz Rani area.
Rohini district Additional Police Commissioner S.D. Mishra told IANS on Wednesday that 15 foreigners, mostly Indonesians, were found hiding in various houses. The Delhi government has shifted them at various places for the purpose of social distancing.