COVID-19: Large religious gatherings that became ‘super spreaders’

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A large religious conference by the Tablighi Jamaat in the heart of India’s capital New Delhi has threatened to accelerate the spread of Coronavirus in the country, putting hundreds of lives at risk. But large religious gatherings are not exclusive to India. Many countries in the world were allowing similar religious congregations at a time Covid-19 was spreading its tentacles across the world.

And all of these big religious gatherings did play a major role in spreading the virus. We take a look at some major religious gatherings over the past few months which have been identified as “super spreaders” of the virus:

1. Tablighi Jamaat gathering in India and Pakistan:

> Over 3,000 people attended this gathering in the month of March in Delhi.

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> The authorities had warned against large gatherings; however, this was largely ignored.

> People from most states across India and also delegates from Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Myanmar, Nepal, Bangladesh and Kyrgyzstan attended this gathering.

> In Delhi, people came all the way from Andaman and Nicobar Islands to attend the religious gathering.

> Tamil Nadu has in fact reported over 150 positive cases, all delegates from this conference.

> Authorities have ascribed over 300 positive cases and 10 deaths due to this gathering in just India.

> In Pakistan, individuals from over 80 nations gathered to participate in the event held in Lahore.

2. Malaysia mosque gathering:

> Over 16,000 people gathered in a mosque outside Kuala Lumpur for a event which lasted from February 27-March 1, 2020.

> As of March 18, Malaysia reported 673 positive cases and authorities described that over half of these cases were related to this gathering.

> By the time the religious clergy began to cooperate with the health authorities, the damage had been done. This then even spread to neighbouring Brunei and Singapore.

3. Pilgrimage to Qom in Iran

> Iran remained the most affected nation after China for a brief period in the month of February. With many Ministers contacting the virus, the attention shifted to the annual Shia pilgrimage to Qom. Lakhs of people attended the event and many were diagnosed as COVID-19 positive.

> This included many Indian nationals from Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh and Maharashtra who were airlifted by the Indian authorities.

4. South Korean Church gathering

> As of March 7, South Korea had over 6,700 COVID-19 cases and according to the health authorities, over 60% of the cases could be traced to this gathering attended at the Shincheonji Church of Jesus.

> This was the first gathering which raises the importance to ban religious gathering by authorities all over the world. However, soon members of the faith were targeted by others.

5. Indonesian Mosque gathering

> The authorities had clearly not learnt anything from the Malaysian authorities and permitted this gathering.

> Over 8,695 people gathered in Gowa near Makassar. Authorities attributed over half of the COVID-19 positive cases as of March 20 to this religious gathering.

These instances clearly point towards a colossal failure to prevent the spread of this deadly virus which is nearing the 1 million positive cases mark around the world.

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