Over 300 Tablighi Jamaat members have been tested coronavirus positive till Sunday in Pakistan's Punjab province, amid efforts by authorities to track down and quarantine thousands of people who attended a massive congregation of the Islamic group last month.
Authorities have placed the entire city of Raiwind that houses headquarters of the Pakistani faction of the Jamaat under quarantine and completely restricted the mobility of people within or outside the city.
According to the data released by the primary and secondary health care corona monitoring room on Sunday, over 300 preachers of the Tablighi Jamaat at quarantine centres in different parts of Punjab province have so far been tested positive for COVID-19. Most of them belong to Lahore's Tablighi Jamaat Markaz that has been turned into quarantine centre.
The other centres where Tablighi preachers have been kept include Rawalpindi, Jehlum, Nankana Sahib, Sargodha, Vehari, Faisalabad, Kalashah Kaku and Rahim Yar Khan districts of Punjab.
A large number of preachers who are suspected to be COVID-19 carrier are also being kept in these quarantine centres.
A large number of preachers who had attended a major congregation in early March in its headquarters in Lahore were later tracked down across the country and placed in quarantine centres.
Some 50 members of the Jamaat, including five Nigerian women, suspected to be carriers of coronavirus, are admitted to a quarantine centre in Kasur, some 50 kms from Lahore.
In Sindh, over 50 Tablighi members have been tested positive and some in Kyber Pakhtaunkhawa.
Over 200 Shia pilgrims who returned from Iran and tested corona positive have been quarantined in Dera Ghazi Khan and Multan districts of Punjab province.
According to the government, in March the Tablighi Jamaat went ahead with its annual congregation in Raiwind, Lahore against its ‘advice’ that the gathering might spread the virus.
Pakistani authorities had urged the cancellation of the five-day Tablighi congregation, which was attended by thousands of people from several countries. Authorities are still trying to track down and quarantine all those who attended Jamaat's event.
Tablighi Jamaat members have emerged as the prime suspects among potential coronavirus carriers, not just in Pakistan but in India, Malaysia and Brunei.
In India, the Jamaat has come under severe criticism for defying the lockdown and organising a congregation. Fifty-three people who took part in the Jamaat congregation in south Delhi's Nizamuddin Markaz last month have tested positive for coronavirus till now.
In Middle East, Gaza's first two confirmed coronavirus patients had also attended the Jamaat congregation in Pakistan.
In Pakistan, the COVID-19 patients number spiked to 2,883 with 40 deaths till Sunday afternoon. Punjab has most 1,196 cases followed by Sindh 830.
There are now more than 1.2 million confirmed cases across the world, and around 65,000 people have died since the virus first emerged in China late last year, according to a John Hopkins University tally.