Pakistan has quarantined 20,000 people and is still searching for thousands more who attended a Muslim group’s gathering in the city of Lahore last month despite the worsening coronavirus pandemic, officials said on Sunday.
Authorities said they want to test or quarantine those who congregated at the event held by the missionary movement, Tablighi Jamaat, between March 10-12 over fears they are now spreading COVID-19 across Pakistan and overseas.
More than 100,000 people went to the meeting, organisers said, undeterred by government requests for it to be cancelled as the virus hit the country.
In northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, authorities have so far quarantined 5,300 tablighis, or Islamic preachers, who attended the meeting.
“Health officials are conducting tests for coronavirus, and some of them have tested positive,” Ajmal Wazir, a spokesman for the region, told AFP news agency on Sunday.
Wazir said thousands of tablighis from his province were stranded in other regions because of the closure of major highways across the country.
About 7,000 have been quarantined in the central Punjab city of Lahore, while in southern Sindh province up to 8,000 tablighis have been quarantined, government officials said.