President Ram Nath Kovind on Friday said that the exodus of migrant workers after the imposition of the 21-day nationwide lockdown to slow down the spread of coronavirus and the congregation of the Tablighi Jamaat in Delhi’s Nizamuddin had caused a setback to India’s efforts in controlling the pandemic.
Kovind held a video-conference with the governors of states and the lieutenant governors and administrators of Union Territories to discuss the measures being implemented to contain the coronavirus.
“The President has expressed concern over two incidents, the gathering of migrant workers in Anand Vihar and the congregation of Tablighi Jamaat in Nizamuddin, both in Delhi, that caused a setback to the efforts to combat Covid-19,” a statement from the Rashtrapati Bhavan read.
Risking infection, thousands of migrant workers left jobless by the lockdown had crowded the Anand Vihar bus stop – a major interstate bus terminal close to Delhi’s border with Ghaziabad – last month to board special buses arranged by the government to take them home. There was a stampede-like situation at some points, with Delhi Police officers on standby carrying lathis and loudspeakers. A baton-charge by police on migrants was also reported.
The Tablighi Jamaat, on the other hand, has emerged as a major coronavirus hotspot in India with the Health Ministry saying that 647 confirmed cases linked to the congregation have been detected from 14 states in the last two days. Thousands of people had attended the religious event in Delhi last month.
Kovind also expressed concern over incidents of doctors and health workers working with Covid-19 patients being ostracized or attacked. “In the conference there was unanimity that there is no scope for laxity or complacency in fighting the invisible enemy,” the statement added. “The president noted with concern the incidents of attacks on doctors, health workers and police personnel in some parts of the country.”
The total number of coronavirus cases in India has risen to 2,301, according to the Health Ministry. More than 150 people in India have recovered from the illness, while 56 have died.