New Delhi: India has reported at least 647 positive novel coronavirus cases from 14 states and Union Territories — all linked to the Tablighi Jamaat Congregation in the last two days. Addressing the daily press briefing, health ministry official Lav Aggarwal said the cases linked to the Nizamuddin congregation have been traced t Assam, Delhi, Himachal, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Andaman and Nicobar. Several other results are still awaited. Out of the 12 deaths reported in the last 24 hours some are related to the Tablighi Jamaat congregation. Also Read - Bugger Hasn't Spared Me! Ishqbaaaz Actor Shrenu Parikh Tests Positive For COVID-19, Hospitalised

“If we see the rise in cases in the last few days, it has primarily been due to an increase at a particular level,” Agarwal said in an apparent reference to the Tablighi Jamaat congregation. Also Read - India's Limited-Overs Home Series Against England in September Set to be Postponed

It took five days to evacuate the headquarters where over 2,000 people were cooped up after India went into a 21-day lockdown. Meanwhile, several others had travelled to other states. Though the Centre has claimed to have issued an alert to all states, the state authorities, already struggling with local cases, scurried to take action after the Nizamuddin incident came to the surface on March 28-29. Also Read - Uncanny! Identical Twin Sisters From Noida Score Identical Marks in CBSE Class 12 Exams, Both Get 95.8%

Seven police personnel, who were part of the team which went to evacuate Nizamuddin Markaz, were sent on leave, officials said on Friday.

Blacklisting proceedings have started against 360 foreigners who participated in Tablighi Jamaat activities in India and left the country before borders were sealed in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, the Union Home Ministry said on Friday. The ministry has also ruled out the deportation of 960 foreigners who came on a tourist visa and participated in Tablighi activities, saying action has already been initiated for alleged violations of visa conditions under the Foreigners Act and the Disaster Management Act.

All Directors General of Police and Commissioners of Police have been instructed to initiate strict action in such cases, it said.

“At this stage, there is no question of deportation…As and when deportation will take place, it will be as per standard health protocol,” a Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said, responding to a question on the deportation of 960 blacklisted foreign nationals linked to the Tablighi Jamaat.

Tablighi Jamaat’s Markaz in Nizamuddin West has emerged as an epicentre for the spread of the coronavirus in different parts of the country after thousands of people took part in a congregation from March 1-15. Many of the participants have tested positive for COVID-19 in several states. The Ministry has also asked the states and Union Territories to take strict action in reported cases of attacks against health care professionals and frontline workers.