Coronavirus: Malaysian police to track down 4,000 participants of mosque event for Covid-19 tests

A police officer stands guard outside the Seri Petaling Mosque in Kuala Lumpur, on March 18, 2020. The Tablighi Jama'at event was held there on Feb 27 to March 1. PHOTO: REUTERS

PUTRAJAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The Malaysian police will track down 4,000 participants who have yet to come forward to be tested for Covid-19 after attending a gathering held by a Muslim missionary movement last month, Defence Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said on Thursday (March 19).

Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri said police had made the decision to track them down, as there were concerns that many who went for the gathering, held by the Tablighi Jama'at, had not yet been tested.

The gathering at Masjid Jamek Sri Petaling in Kuala Lumpur took place from Feb 27 to March 1, drawing 16,000 followers, including those who travelled from overseas.

"While police said they will be doing this, I hope those who went for the event voluntarily get themselves tested," he told a press conference.

The majority of the more than 700 Covid-19 cases recorded in Malaysia so far have been from the Tabligh cluster.

Countries such as Singapore, Brunei, Cambodia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam have also reported cases of infections stemming from the gathering.

Mr Ismail Sabri also said Malaysians who had gone to Indonesia to attend another gathering there would have to be quarantined for 14 days upon their return.

He was responding to reports that 83 Malaysians had travelled to Indonesia's South Sulawesi province to attend the event, which Indonesian authorities said on Thursday has now been postponed.

"We are also getting details from the Immigration Department on how many Malaysians are overseas and their expected return so that necessary action can be taken," he said.

However, a Malaysian participant at the gathering said he would not return until Malaysia lifted its movement control order.

The Star, quoting a report in news portal Malaysiakini, said the businessman from Kuching, who wanted to be known only as "Ustaz Addie" had been in Indonesia for two weeks before making his way to Gowa, Makassar, to join in the three-day event.

"Maybe I will go to Jakarta after this... if it is safe for me to find products to sell (back home).

"If it's not safe, then I will stay in Pontianak," he said, referring to the capital of Indonesia's West Kalimantan.

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