Nepal's COVID-19 cases reach 57 as 3 returnees from Tablighi event in India test positive

Shirish B Pradhan

Kathmandu, Apr 29 (PTI) Nepal on Wednesday said that three persons, who returned from India after attending a Tablighi Jamaat gathering, have been tested positive for the coronavirus, bringing the total number of the COVID-19 patients in the country to 57.

The three men, who were staying in quarantine after returning from the Tablighi Jamaat gathering in Delhi's Nizamuddin area last month, have been brought to an isolation ward of Narayani Hospital in Birgunj for treatment, according to a spokesperson at the Ministry of Health and Population.

The swab samples of the patients -- aged 31, 43 and 46 -- which were tested at Kathmandu-based National Public Health Laboratory (NPHL), came out positive for the COVID-19, the ministry said.

So far, coronavirus tests have been conducted on 11,524 people in the country. Sixteen patients have been cured so far.

Currently, there are 41 active COVID-19 patients undergoing treatment at different hospitals across Nepal.

Tablighi Jamaat members have emerged as the prime suspects among potential coronavirus carriers, not just in India, but in Pakistan, Malaysia and Brunei.

In India, the Jamaat has come under severe criticism for defying the lockdown and organising a congregation in south Delhi's Nizamuddin Markaz last month.

According to officials in Delhi, as many as 2,100 foreigners visited India for Tablighi activities since January 1 and all of them first reported at its headquarters in Delhi's Nizamuddin.

Nepal has been under lockdown since March 23. All government services other than essential have been shut down. On Sunday, the government extended the nationwide lockdown till May 7 to stop the spread of the deadly contagion.

Nepal's tourism sector is the worst hit by the pandemic. The Hotel Association of Nepal has projected that the hotel business income will decline by 90 per cent in 2020 and has asked the government to adopt special measures to protect the industry. PTI SBP CPS ZH AKJ CPS