Part of religious group, man from Ivory Coast and NRI from France test positive in Ahmednagar

Chandan Haygunde, Anuradha Mascarenhas

Hyderabad: Medics outside an isolation ward of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) at a hospital in Hyderabad. (PTI Photo)

Two foreign nationals— one from Ivory Coast and the other an NRI from France— tested positive for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in Maharashtra's Ahmednagar on Sunday.

The duo, members of a Muslim Jamaat involved in Islamic preaching and education, had come to India with another group of nine persons on January 4 via Mauritius. The group, with members between 30 and 50 years of age, travelled in two different trains and reached Ahmednagar on March 16.

The group of 14 people included three from East Africa, six from Ivory Coast (West Africa), the NRI from France and one from Iran. Three others from Tamil Nadu and one from Mumbai joined them later.

District Civil Surgeon Dr Pradeep Murambikar said as per their travel history, the group had travelled to Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai from January till March. On March 13, they were joined by three others, and the group travelled via Nizamuddin Express and another train to Ahmednagar. They stayed at a local mosque in Ahmednagar and then went to Jamkhed.

District Collector of Ahmednagar, Rahul Dwivedi, told The Indian Express that even before the nationwide lockdown came into effect, an appeal had been sent to local residents to refrain from large gatherings and all religious places were shut down.

According to Ahmednagar Police, they had received information that some people were offering namaaz at a mosque in Jamkhed on March 25. A team reached the spot and found that 14 persons had gathered at the mosque despite the lockdown order, and an offence was lodged against three trustees of the mosque under Section 188 and other sections of the Indian Penal Code for violating government orders.

Members of the group were immediately sent to the quarantine facility and their samples were sent on March 28 for tests. Two of the samples tested positive for COVID-19. The patients have been admitted to a hospital in Ahmednagar while the others are in a quarantine facility at the District Civil Hospital, said officials.

Police personnel who had come in contact with both foreign nationals will also undergo medical check-up, said Jamkhed police.

Additional Superintendent at Ahmednagar District Police, Sagar Patil, said a probe was also underway to identify which visa the foreign nationals had come to India on.

Ahmednagar district collector Dwivedi, however, said the group had not mingled with others in the community and food for those staying at the mosque was sent separately.

Ahmednagar patient discharged

A 45-year-old COVID-19 patient from Ahmednagar, who was part of a 40-member group that had travelled to Dubai and returned on March 1, was discharged from the hospital on Sunday after he tested negative for the disease. Ahmednagar District Civil Surgeon Dr Pradeep Murambikar said the man had reported symptoms of cough and fever, and was admitted to the local hospital. After a 14-day isolation period, and with two samples testing negative for COVID-19, the man was discharged on Sunday.