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First COVID-19 case in Karnataka: Techie who returned to Bengaluru from US tests positive

Confirming the same in a press meet held in Bengaluru, Medical Education Minister Dr K Sudhakar said the patient tested positive "twice" had travelled from the US back to Bengaluru on March 1.

Written by Ralph Alex Arakal | Bengaluru |
Updated: March 9, 2020 9:58:30 pm
Indians wearing masks walk inside Government Medical College hospital in Jammu, India, Sunday, March 8, 2020. With the new coronavirus now spreading inside the country of 1.4 billion, authorities are scrambling to ready the understaffed medical system for a potential surge in patients. (Photo: AP/Channi Anand)

The Karnataka government confirmed the first positive case of a person infected with COVID-19 on Monday.

Confirming the same in a press meet held in Bengaluru, Medical Education Minister Dr K Sudhakar said the patient tested positive “twice” had travelled from the US back to Bengaluru on March 1.

“The patient, a software engineer, who is around 40 years old had been to the US for official purposes. He landed in Bengaluru (Kempegowda) International Airport on March 1 with no symptoms but later developed symptoms on March 4 after which he got admitted to a private hospital in the city,” Sudhakar said. Coronavirus outbreak LIVE updates

Later, the patient was transferred to the isolation ward set up at the Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Chest Diseases (RJICD) on March 5, after which samples were sent to National Institute of Virology (NIV Pune).

“The sample was sent twice and was tested positive for the second time today (Monday) which led to the confirmation of this first positive case of coronavirus in Karnataka,” Sudhakar added.

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Explaining the patient’s travel history, Karnataka Health Commissioner Pankaj Kumar Pandey said the person and his colleague were in Austin, the state capital of American state Texas.

“After they flew out from Austin to New York on February 28, the next day (February 29) they caught a flight from New York to Dubai. Then, on March 1, they took an Emirates flight which landed in Bengaluru airport at 8.50 am,” Pandey explained.

The top officials also added that the infected person’s wife, child and his colleague have also been shifted to RJICD where they are treated in isolation.

Meanwhile, the school in which the child studies, situated in Whitefield, has been closed indefinitely. “The driver who picked them up from the airport has also been identified and his family — including his wife and two children — have been asked to be at home quarantine and is closely observed by a health department team,” Pandey added.

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Both the colleague, driver and their families have been quarantined for the mandatory period of 28 days.

Minister Sudhakar added that various departments of the state government including BBMP (Bengaluru’s local administrative body), and Departments of Urban Development, Disaster Management, Medical Education, Primary and Secondary Education, Women, and Child is in tight coordination to combat all worries related to the issue.

“The government has collected details of 2,666 people so far expected to be among the primary and secondary contacts of the infected person. They have been traced and are being followed by various teams formed,” Jawaid Akhtar, Additional Chief Secretary, Health and Family Welfare and Medical Education said.

Three teams have been formed to trace the contacts specifically, one each for those related to the man’s residence, his workplace, and the man’s travel history.

Expressing hope and repeating that the government is fully equipped to contain the situation, Dr Sudhakar said, “There is nothing to panic. The patient’s health in no way has gone into an aggrieved condition. We are doing our best and hope he will recover soon,” drawing comparisons to how positive cases in neighbouring state Kerala recovered.

Primary schools in Bengaluru to be shut indefinitely

“All primary schools (which includes upto class 5) in Bengaluru – including aided, unaided, and private – will remain closed till further orders from Tuesday (March 10) in the interest of all students and parents,” minister Sudhakar announced.

Also a qualified doctor, the minister explained the decision saying children and senior citizens are more prone to be affected which led to the government’s decision.

Primary and Secondary Education Minister S Suresh Kumar had on Sunday announced that all pre-primary schools in Bengaluru would be closed “till further orders” as a precautionary measure to avoid coronavirus infections.

Awareness meeting for RWAs in Bengaluru. (Express Photo)

Health, BBMP, IT-BT top officials meet tech companies’ representatives

Earlier on Monday, top officials of various government departments held discussions with HR representatives of several tech companies in Bengaluru.

“The BBMP Commissioner, IT-BT Director and myself along with our teams held two rounds of discussions with HR representatives of over 25 companies situated in Bengaluru’s tech corridor, especially in Electronic City and Sarjapura,” Pandey said.

In another awareness meeting held for representatives of various resident welfare associations (RWAs) in the city, Bengaluru mayor M Gowtham Kumar, BBMP Commissioner B H Anil Kumar, and top officials of the local civic body addressed various concerns raised by the residents.

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