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From Kashmir To Andamans – Tablighi Jamaat Congregation Leaves Covid-19 Footprints Everywhere

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The Tablighi Jamaat is fast emerging as the new super spreader of coronavirus not only in India but across the world. The Tablighi Jamaat organized a religious congregation at its 100-year-old headquarters in Nizamuddin in South Delhi resulting in over 300 hospitalizations on account of symptoms linked to coronavirus.

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Out of the 10 deaths that have been attributed to the Tablighi Jamaat gathering, nine are Indian nationals with six from Telangana and one each from Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Jammu and Kashmir while out of the 43 confirmed Covid-19 cases 24 are Indian nationals.

Tablighi Jamaat

The Tablighi Jamaat is an Islamic missionary movement founded in 1926 in Mewat, Haryana in India by Maulana Muhammad Ilyas to get Muslims to practice Islam as was practised at the time of Prophet Muhammad. The organization is estimated to have 150 million members and has often been criticized for its orthodox beliefs.

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The congregation of Tablighi Jamaat was held in the Indian capital of New Delhi in early March has sparked fears of an increase in Covid-19 cases after more than 2000 members from the organization from Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Nepal, Thailand, Myanmar, and Kyrgyzstan attended the event. Around 1400 people had continued to stay at the venue even after the event.

According to a report, 34 sanitation workers and 20 domestic breeding checkers have been deployed in the area and around 30,000 litres of disinfectant has been spread.

Six people from Telangana who had attended the Tablighi Jamaat event died from the virus on Sunday. The state’s medical officer told that more than 40 of Telangana’s 71 cases were either directly or indirectly linked to the event.

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A 65-year-old Kashmiri man who had attended the Tablighi Jamaatcongregation died from the virus last week making him Kashmir’s first casualty. Officials said that more than 40 of the region’s 48 cases could be traced back him.

The man is said to have held further congregations in Sopore, Bandipora and Samba sectors. While family members of the victim have tested negative some of his contacts have tested positive. Even in the farthest and of the most remote islands of the country – Andaman and Nicobar Islands has reported six people positive of the nine who attended the Delhi event.

The southern states of Tami Nadu, Karnataka, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh have said more than 3,000 people from their states had attended the event, and Tamil Nadu has traced 16 positive patients to it. One person each from Tami Nadu and Karnataka has died so far.

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There was also a group of 10 who is believed to have travelled from Mumbai, in Maharashtra.

The headquarters of the Tablighi Jamaat organisation has been sealed and police are trying to detect and limit the spread and have also asked people to voluntarily come forward for the test.  The Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has ordered a First Information Report (FIR) on the incident but the organization has denied any wrongdoing.

Tablighi Jamaat Gathering In Pakistan

Earlier as EurAsian Times had reported, the annual  Tablighi Jamaat gathering that brought 250,000 people from across 90 countries in Lahore infected two men from Gaza with coronavirus when they returned from Pakistan.

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Twelve other participants of this Jamaat, from the suburbs of Islamabad, have been found to be infected. Four others were found positive in Sindh. One Kyrgyzstan preacher of the Jammat was diagnosed in an Islamabad mosque, his 13 companions were quarantined and the mosque was locked down and disinfected.

However, none of this has stopped the Tablighis from gathering, in Mardan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, where hundreds of participants defied the law and continued to preach and pray. Pakistan’s first coronavirus victim, 50-year-old Saadat Khan, from Mardan was believed to have been exposed to covid-19 after attending the Tablighi Jamaat event and 39 people who were in touch with him later tested positive.

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In Malaysia, in mid-march, the religious congregation organized by the group was attended by 16,000 people, including 1,500 foreigners. Out of Malaysia’s 673 confirmed coronavirus cases, nearly two-thirds were traced back to the four-day gathering. The packed gathering was attended by nationals from Canada, Nigeria, India, Australia, China and South Korea.

Brunei has confirmed 50 cases linked to the mosque gathering, out of a total of 56 cases. Singapore has announced five while Cambodia 13 and Thailand at least two. Philippine earlier reported of a death of a man who attended the event in Malaysia.

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Hagia Sophia: Turkey turns iconic Istanbul museum of Hagia Sophia into mosque

The court ruled that Hagia Sophia was owned by a foundation established by Sultan Mehmet II, also known as Mehmet the Conqueror, and was presented to the community as a mosque. According to the ruling, Hagia Sophia was defined as a “mosque,” a status that cannot be legally changed.

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The iconic Istanbul museum of Hagia Sophia will be turned into a mosque. Hours after a landmark court ruling Friday (July 10), the Turkish government confirmed that Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia will be reopened for worship after an 85-year hiatus.

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The nearly 1,500-year-old architectural gem will be transferred to the state Religious Affairs Directorate under a presidential decree, according to a Friday announcement in the Official Gazette.

Earlier Friday, ruling on a petition filed by an Istanbul NGO, Turkey’s Council of State overturned a 1934 Cabinet decree that had turned Hagia Sophia into a museum.

The court ruled that Hagia Sophia was owned by a foundation established by Sultan Mehmet II, also known as Mehmet the Conqueror, and was presented to the community as a mosque. According to the ruling, Hagia Sophia was defined as a “mosque,” a status that cannot be legally changed.

After centuries of use as a church under the Byzantine Empire, in 1453 Hagia Sophia was converted into a mosque by Mehmet II following his conquest of Istanbul. In 1935, Hagia Sophia was turned into a museum. Posting his decree on social media today, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed best wishes for the change, which he has long advocated.

While details of the change are not yet known, Turkish officials have pointed out that many famed houses of worship, such as Paris’ Notre Dame and Istanbul’s Blue Mosque, are also open to visitors.

“Opening up Hagia Sophia to worship won’t keep local or foreign tourists from visiting the site,” Ibrahim Kalin, Erdogan’s spokesman, told Anadolu Agency in an interview this week. Turkey is home to people of many faiths who can freely exercise their religions, he added.

World Reacts To Decision On Hagia Sophia

The Russian Orthodox Church expressed shock at Turkey’s decision to withdraw the museum status of Hagia Sophia, blaming it of disregarding voices of millions of Christians. “The concern of millions of Christians has not been heard,” Russian Orthodox Church spokesman Vladimir Legoida stated.

“Today’s court ruling shows that all calls for the need for extreme delicacy in this matter were ignored,” Legoida said.

UNESCO said its World Heritage Committee would review Hagia Sophia’s status, saying it was “regrettable that the Turkish decision was not the subject of dialogue nor notification beforehand”.

“UNESCO calls on the Turkish authorities to open a dialogue without delay in order to avoid a step back from the universal value of this exceptional heritage whose preservation will be reviewed by the World Heritage Committee in its next session,” the UN’ cultural body said in a statement.

Cypriot Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides tweeted –  Cyprus “strongly condemns Turkey’s actions on Hagia Sophia in its effort to distract domestic opinion and calls on Turkey to respect its international obligations”.

Christodoulides said Turkey’s “escalating, flagrant violation of its international obligations is manifested in its decision to alter the designation of Hagia Sophia, a World Heritage Site that is a universal symbol of the Orthodox faith”.

Later, Greece called Turkey’s move an “open provocation to the civilised world”. “The nationalism displayed by Erdogan … takes his country back six centuries,” Culture Minister Lina Mendoni said in a statement.

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Indian Air Force Receives Complete Delivery Apache, Chinook Helicopters

Boeing India also tweeted: Thank you, @IAF_MCC, for your partnership. We’re happy to have completed the deliveries of the 22 #AH64-E Apache and 15 #Chinook helicopters to India.

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The Indian Air Force (IAF) has received the delivery of all AH-64E Apache and CH-47F(I) Chinook helicopters today. The final five of the 22 Apache attack helicopters were handed over to the IAF at Air Force Station, Hindon.

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Earlier, Boeing had handed over the last five of 15 CH-47F (I) Chinook heavy-lift helicopters to the Indian Air Force, read a statement. India is one of 17 nations to select the Apache and has opted for the most advanced version of the attack helicopter.

“Customer centricity, commitment to the modernization and mission-readiness of India’s defence forces are key values to our partnership with India,” said Surendra Ahuja, Managing Director, Boeing Defence India.

“With this delivery of military helicopters, we continue to nurture this partnership and are fully committed to working closely with India’s defence forces to deliver the right value and capabilities to meet their operational needs,” Ahuja added.

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COVID-19 Exposes India, Philippines To Higher Risk Of Cancer; Australia, Malaysia Safest – Index

According to an index prepared by the Economist Intelligence Unit, Australia, Malaysia and South Korea are most prepared to meet the burden of more cancer cases. Meanwhile, India, the Philippines and Vietnam are ill-prepared to face such a challenge. 

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As people living in Asian countries get richer and lead to sedimentary and unhealthy lifestyles, cancer is predicted to increases. However, countries such as Australia, Malaysia and South-Korea are well prepared to battle cancer while countries such as India and the Philippines are ill-prepared.

According to an index prepared by the Economist Intelligence Unit, Australia, Malaysia and South Korea are most prepared to meet the burden of more cancer cases. Meanwhile, India, the Philippines and Vietnam are ill-prepared to face such a challenge.

The EIU has warned of a mini-tsunami of cancer cases as the coronavirus subsides and patients feel safe to visit hospitals. Out of fear of catching the coronavirus, cancer patients have avoided getting treatments done at hospitals.

Even hospitals put cancer treatment on the back burner as a top priority was given to curing COVID-19 cases. In the Philippines, for instance, cancer patients who were no longer able to attend advanced medical facilities were simply discharged into the wider community without any continuity of care.

The index measured the preparedness of 10 Asia-Pacific countries using 45 indicators and created a scorecard for each country, with 100 being most prepared.

Australia led the ranking with a score of 92.4, followed by South Korea with 83.4, and Malaysia with 80.3. All three have rigorous vaccination programs, including for hepatitis B which is linked to liver cancer, and HPV which can cause cervical cancer.

These countries tend to be aggressive in gathering information about individual cases at a national level so policymakers can understand the scale of the problem and design effective responses.

The rankings indicate that the three countries mentioned above have managed to keep the mortality rate down. This indicates that they are either detecting cancers at an early stage and/or are able to treat their patients effectively. Cancers that are more advanced are difficult to cure.

Unhealthy Habits a Cause of Concern

Philippines, Vietnam and Indonesia, are all rapidly growing economies whose populations have developed bad habits such as smoking. For example, nearly 40% of Indonesians aged 15 and older smoke.

Similarly, obesity amongst children in Thailand and Indonesia, countries where medical services are harder to access, could become a problem in the near future.

The EIU suggests that governments could support low-income groups by subsidizing health care costs and that patients should not have to pay more than 20% of their medical bills. 62.4% of medical expenses are still paid by patients in India, 53% in the Philippines, 45.3% in Vietnam and 36.1% in China.

Presently, governments Government health care expenditure is also low in these countries, at just 3.4% of total expenditure in New Delhi, 7.1% in the Manila, 9.1% in Beijing and 9.5% in Hanoi.

In terms of service affordability, accessibility to cancer treatments such as radiotherapy and cancer research, Japan tops the list. Tokyo has prioritized tackling the disease ever since it became the leading cause of deaths from 1981.

However, Japan has a poor track record for data collection, an issue that also became clear during the coronavirus crisis and is slow in introducing vaccination programs. The EIU also noted “a concerning prevalence of modifiable risk factors such as smoking and alcohol consumption in Japan,” and urged the government to promote healthier lifestyles.

Despite having advance medical facilities and superior services, cancer patients in Japan have a higher mortality rate than patients in Australia and South Korea.

Cancers are caused by damage to genes and such genetic errors tend to increase with age, obesity and bad habits, such as smoking, alcohol consumption and a lack of exercise. Half of the cancer patients in the world currently live in Asia. By 2030, cancer cases are expected to rise by 35% in the region, even as its population is expected to grow just 9%.

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