Amid coronavirus outbreak, Pakistan fears religious congregations

WION Web Team New Delhi, Delhi, India Mar 25, 2020, 06.36 PM(IST)

File photo. Photograph:( PTI )

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An Islamic outfit, Tableeghi Jamaat went ahead with an estimated 50,000-plus congregation at Raiwind.

Pakistan remains under lockdown for all practical purposes, with no domestic or international flights taking off or landing.
 
However, the biggest challenge in the battle against the coronavirus, for the government is the Islamists who do not want to follow quarantine guidelines, placed after the global outbreak.

Also read: Coronavirus in Pakistan: Number of case cross 1000, 7 dead

The government is yet to ban them from Friday congregations as Imran Khan fears that it could result in a backlash.
 
But the challenge at hand remains. Pakistan is listed as being an exporter of the novel coronavirus. In a recent case, at least two Palestinians tested positive for the coronavirus. They had attended a large religious congregation in Lahore, namely the Raiwind Ijtima.

An Islamic outfit, Tableeghi Jamaat went ahead with an estimated 50,000-plus congregation at Raiwind. The 40-day-long congregation was subsequently called off after the intervention of the Punjab government.

This is being seen as a one-off event which has led to a sharp increase in the number of COVID-19 cases.

Participants from Malaysia are also reported to have tested positive for the virus, and it is assumed that they had contracted the infection during the religious gathering.

While most of the attendees decided to head back to their countries, some stayed back; and 6 of those who stayed back, part of a group from Kyrgyzstan.

In the wee hours of Wednesday, a Kyrgyz national was tested in Islamabad for COVID-19. 

The Kyrgyz national tested positive and had to be tracked him through the location of his mobile, only to discover that he was being hosted at a local mosque on the outskirts of Islamabad.  

The whole area went under lockdown and 8,000 people were tested. In the process, another 6 people turned out to be COVID-19 positives.