As the number of novel coronavirus cases linked to Islamic sect Tablighi Jamaat continue to grow nationwide, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy today urged people to put aside caste, creed and religion and stand united in the fight against the COVID-19 virus. He also asked people to join the rest of the country in lighting a lantern, or diya (earthen lamp) at 9 pm on Sunday, as requested by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday.
The call to hold diyas or lamps for nine minutes at 9 pm on Sunday was made by PM Modi, who said it would “challenge the darkness spread by the coronavirus crisis (by) introducing it to the power of light”.
“Some people from our state went to a religious congregation at Delhi where members from foreign countries have also come. Some of them are infected and the coronavirus has spread from there. (But) there’s no reason why the spread should be attributed to a particular community,” the Chief Minister said in his address to the people of Andhra.
“It should be seen as an unfortunate incident that happened there. It could have happened anywhere. There is no reason to discriminate and attribute motives as the spread was not intentional ” he added.
The Chief Minister pointed out that congregations were being, or had been, held by other religions and spiritual leaders, including Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, Mata Amritanandamayi and Paul Dinakaran.
“We should not discriminate against people as it happened that way and was not premeditated. We have to put up a united fight like Indians giving no room for caste or religion,” he said.
The Chief Minister also clarified that the salary deferment announced for state employees was not be applicable to staff on the frontline in the battle against the coronavirus. The deferments will range from 10 to 100 per cent for different categories of employees.
Nearly 87 per cent of the 180 COVID-19 positive cases reported from Andhra have been linked to the Tablighi Jamaat gathering, with 16 new cases reported between 10.30 pm Friday and 10 am Saturday.
The state has reported one virus-linked death so far – a 55-year-old man who suffered from diabetes and hypertension and died on March 30.
There are over 3,000 COVID-19 cases in India and 75 deaths have been linked to the virus, the Health Ministry said today. Worldwide over a million people have been infected and at least 60,000 killed.