Mumbai: 239 out of 548 deaths due to COVID-19 recorded in Maharashtra are from the Muslim community as of May 3 which constitutes 44% of deaths recorded in the state.
The numbers are quite alarming as Muslims are less than 12 per cent in the state’s population and deaths due to coronavirus are almost thrice their population share.
Noticing the gravity of the situation, the state epidemiology department has planned to launch COVID-19 awareness messages in Urdu in select hotspots taking along religious leaders for community outreach.
As per Indian Express Analysis, since the first death reported on March 17, 89 Muslims died of the 187 deaths reported till April 15 in the state. Between April 15 to May 3, of the 361 additional deaths, 150 were from the community.
Incidentally, only one death of a Filipino national is linked to Tablighi Jamaat mid-March event in New Delhi. 69 Covid positive cases in Maharashtra were traced to the Tablighi Jamaat.
State officials and experts point to several reasons behind this:
- Curbs on travellers from the Gulf came as late as mid-March;
- Friday prayers in many mosques continued until March 20;
- A significant share of the community lives in neighbourhoods where social distancing is difficult;
- High population density;
- And access to poor healthcare.
“A lot of people working (in the Gulf) returned home and were missed during airport screening. That was a game-changer. We noticed that several of them, although asymptomatic, spread infection in community,” state epidemiologist Pradeep Awate said.
The state public health department has roped in mosques and local Maulanas (clerics) to relay Covid awareness messages in Urdu to community. “We are now trying to look for local popular figures who can act as messengers and disseminate information about the disease locally. We will soon issue awareness messages in Urdu in hotspots like Malegaon and Mumbai to reach out to minority,” said Awate.