Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath on Tuesday directed officials to house the arrested members of the Muslim religious sect who had gathered in Nizamuddin in March amid the coronavirus pandemic in temporary jails if they are suspected of being carriers of the virus, PTI reported.

The Tablighi Jamaat event, held around the time India was beginning to enforce social distancing, has since emerged as a hotspot.

“In view of the arrests of Tablighi Jamaat members and others for security reasons amid the coronavirus-led lockdown, the chief minister has instructed to keep them in temporary jail and not in regular ones,” Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Awanish Awasthi said in a statement. “As many as 23 temporary jails have been set up in the state, and testing of inmates is being done.”

India has 19,984 coronavirus cases and 640 deaths, according to the health ministry’s Wednesday morning update. Of these confirmed cases, 15,474 people are being treated, 3,869 people have recovered, and one person has left the country. Uttar Pradesh has so far reported around 1,300 cases.

Awasthi added that Adityanath has directed officials to ensure essential items are supplied without any interruptions during the holy month of Ramzan. Instructions have been sent to divisional commissioners, district magistrates and superintendents of police of all districts, and the police commissioners of Lucknow and Gautam Buddh Nagar.

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Awasthi added that the state administration will make arrangements to bring home the body of any person who dies of coronavirus outside the state.

In Allahabad, a university professor and 29 others were arrested, PTI had reported on Tuesday. This included 16 foreign Tablighi Jamaat members. The professor, Mohammed Shahid, was arrested for allegedly sheltering Indonesians in a mosque in the city. One of the Indonesians had undergone treatment for Covid-19 at a hospital in Kotwa Bani, Allahabad Superintendent of Police Brijesh Kumar Shrivastava said.

Thousands of Indians and hundreds of foreigners had attended the Tablighi Jamaat conference. Many also fanned out across the country to recruit people after this, raising concerns about the scale of the potential spread of infection at the conference. On April 5, the health ministry said the religious gathering had pushed up the doubling rate of cases in India to 4.1 days from the estimated 7.4 days.

On April 18, the Centre said that nearly 30% of the then 14,378 cases of Covid-19 reported in India were related to a “single source” – the event held in Nizamuddin in Delhi. Over 25,000 Tablighi Jamaat members and their contacts were quarantined in the country after the Centre and the states launched a massive operation to trace them.

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