Karnataka health department has decided to test
Tablighi Jamaat members for Covid-19 even if they are asymptomatic and have not attended the
Nizamuddin Markaz event in Delhi last month. This follows an unpredictable pattern of positive cases emerging among those associated with TJ in the state.
Around 361 people from Karnataka may have attended the Markaz and the existing lab-testing strategy mandates drawing swab samples of only those who had returned up to a fortnight ago, irrespective of their symptoms. However, some positive cases not falling within standard testing criteria have baffled health officials, who said that they are now going beyond the government’s written order and extending testing to other TJ members.
For instance, in Mysuru, four TJ members tested positive for Covid-19 on Saturday. According to the district administration, these patients did not attend the Markaz in March, but had a travel history to Delhi in January. Similarly, in Bidar, a group of 10 people who had attended the Markaz and returned to the district on March 17, tested positive after the incubation period of 14 days. Two patients in Mangaluru, who had participated in the Delhi congregation and later tested positive, had no symptoms of the disease at all. “They had no cough, fever… not even the mildest symptom. If we had decided on sending their samples purely based on symptoms, we would not even know that they are positive,” a health officer from Dakshina Kannada district said.
This has prompted the state health department to use its discretion and allow districts to send swab samples even if the cases do not strictly fall into any of the categories laid out for lab testing. “The health authorities will decide on testing samples even of those Jamaat members who did not attend the Delhi meeting, but have some kind of travel history. Tests are conducted to rule out the risk. There are also good chances that some people may not entirely reveal the truth about travel or contact history,” state education minister S Suresh Kumar, who is the spokesperson for Covid-19, told ET.
One of the districts has sent samples of 30 Jamaat members without a travel history to Delhi in the recent past. According to the district authorities, these members had arrived in the town in the second week of March from Tamil Nadu and Gujarat. “Health authorities have agreed to test these samples because the Tamil Nadu town from where these people came has now become a Covid-19 hotspot,” the district officer said.