KUALA LUMPUR: Some 80 Malaysians are believed to have arrived in Gowa, Makassar in Indonesia to join thousands of Muslim pilgrims at an international tabligh gathering there.
A Facebook post linked to an organising committee member of the event stated that there were 411 foreign nationals from nine countries, including 83 from Malaysia, at the event.
A total of 8,283 participants are also expected to attend the event from Indonesia’s 29 provinces.
Gowa's administrative head Adnan Purichta Ichsan Yasin Limpo told CNN Indonesia that the gathering was an annual event but a request had been made for the organisers to postpone this year's World Ijtima Asia Zone 2020 in light of the Covid-19 outbreak.
He, however, said that the participants had already arrived.
Adnan told the news network that the participants had come from all around Indonesia and that some from countries like Pakistan had been in the country since February.
He meanwhile told a local news portal that it was constantly monitoring the situation.
The Malaysian gathering held from Feb 27 to March 1 was attended by some 16,000 followers.
A total of 513 Covid-19 positive cases and one death have so far been linked to this cluster aside from regional cases in Vietnam, Brunei and Singapore.
He had also said that attempts to engage the organisers to seek a postponement of the event had been made since Friday but a meeting was only held earlier yesterday as the tabligh group waited for the arrival of their syura council members.
Adnan told the news portal that its request was now for the meeting to only be held on March 19.
The organisers had also notified him that a decision would only be made after Subuh prayers at dawn today.
In the meantime, Adnan said the city administration and health officials had gone to the site - described as numerous large tents in an open-air area - to disinfect the surroundings.
Indonesia recorded 55 new Covid-19 cases yesterday, bringing the total to 227 cases including 19 deaths.
Earlier, Reuters reported that the same social media accounts were used to promote the gathering in Gowa and Sri Petaling.
One account on Facebook carried the photograph of a prominent Indian Tablighi cleric Sheikh Maulana Ibrahim Dewla leaving the Kuala Lumpur International Airport on Tuesday for the Indonesia event.
Under the movement control order that is now in effect, the 80 participants would be required to undergo a 14-day self-quarantine upon returning to Malaysia.
Meanwhile, a Malaysian Embassy spokesman in Jakarta told Bernama that although the embassy had issued an order banning Malaysians from attending the programme, scores of Malaysians were already there.
"We do not have the exact figure of Malaysians attending the event, but we are trying to locate them," he was quoted by Bernama.