BHUBANESWAR: At least seven foreigners, including six from Sudan, have been kept in isolation in a government quarantine facility in Odisha, official sources said on Wednesday. They had recently returned from New Delhi after attending the religious congregation at the Tablighi Jamaat’s Nizamuddin Markaz.
The seven foreign nationals are reportedly part of a 10-member team of preachers from Sudan and Djibouti who had also spent a few days in Rourkela before leaving for New Delhi.
After the matter came to the fore, the core COVID monitoring unit and the Sundargarh district administration swung into action and brought them to the quarantine facility. Efforts are on to trace whoever has come in contact with them.
The Tablighi event has sparked fear among the attendees in the state. “The foreign preachers have been isolated and their health is being examined properly. Their blood and swab samples have been sent for tests. There is no reason to panic as contract tracing is on,” said an official.
Apart from the African nationals, the state tracing cell has so far identified 35 persons from Odisha who had attended the congregation and returned to their respective districts. Along with their family members, they have been kept under quarantine.
"The persons so far traced belong to Khurda, Cuttack, Kendrapara, Jajpur, Ganjam and Sundargarh districts. The number is likely to go up as more than 100 monitoring teams have been engaged to trace the Tablighi attendees," the official added.
Since there is no information on the number of persons from the state who attended the congregation, the monitoring cell has a herculean task to trace them. The state government has urged people to inform the control room at the 104 helpline if they come to know about any Tablighi attendees.
The condition of 15 people from the state now under quarantine at New Delhi is stated to be stable. The reports of their samples sent for tests are awaited.
Meanwhile, the state monitoring cell has initiated contact tracing of a fourth COVID-19 patient who tested positive on Tuesday evening. The 29-year-old chef, a native of Bhadrak town, had returned from Dubai on March 18 and was asymptomatic. He has been admitted to the isolation ward of SCB Medical College and Hospital at Cuttack.
The Sports Secretary and OSD to the Chief Secretary for COVID-19, Vishal Kumar Dev, said Odisha Police and Intelligence Bureau officials are tracing the contacts of the youth. "The matter was discussed with the Union Cabinet Secretary during a video conference on Wednesday. We have sought more testing kits and medical equipment including PPEs from the Centre," he added.