The number of purely Indian transmission cases of the coronavirus Covid 19 has over the last two days surpassed the numbers of cases linked to foreign returnees and their contacts in the state of Karnataka for the first time – with the Tablighi Jamaat cluster reaching 46 cases and a cluster at a pharma firm in Mysuru reaching 35 cases on Saturday.
While cases of the coronavirus infection in Karnataka, which began emerging since March 8, were initially confined to persons returning from Covid 19 affected countries and their contacts in India these cases have now been over taken by the “purely Indian cases.”
As of April 11 the total number of cases linked to foreign returnees and their contacts stands at 97 while the cases that are considered Indian transmission cases like the Tabligi Jamaat cluster and the Mysuru pharma firm cluster hit the figure of 118.
Until April 9, according to data put out by the Karnataka Covid 19 war room analytics team, the number of foreign returnees and contacts who had tested positive for the Covid 19 virus was 96 while 95 persons who tested positive were considered “pure India” cases.
With international flights coming to a halt on March 23 and over 35,000 foreign returnees moving out of their mandatory 14 day hospital isolation periods the numbers of local Indian cases are now seeing a rapid pick up rate compared to the foreign returned cases.
As of April 11 Karnataka had detected 215 Covid 19 positive cases from tests 8560 samples tested for the virus. While the origin of infection has been vaguely identified in 210 cases the origin of infection has not been identified in five cases so far, according to official data.
There have been six cases of death due to the coronavirus in the state with two being of elderly persons who fell ill after their return from Saudi Arabia, one of an elderly man who was at the Tablighi Jamaat Markaz in Delhi in March, and three cases of elderly persons in the Bagalkot, Gadag and Kalaburagi region where the source of infection is still unknown.
According to data analysis carried out at the Karnataka Covid 19 war room as many as 26 foreign returnee infection cases in the state had UAE as their port of origin, eight from USA, seven from UK, six from Saudi Arabia, four each from Spain and Germany, three from Greece, two each from Brazil and France, and one each from Switzerland, Sri Lanka, Netherlands and Australia. The number of primary contacts – spouses, children, domestic workers – infected by these 66 returnees currently stands at 31.
One of the biggest cluster in the foreign returnee category has been a a seven person cluster linked to a 51-year-old Bengaluru man who returned from the UK on March 14 – whose son, two domestic workers, one of the domestic workers husbands and his friend, and a security guard at the home of the foreign returnee have been infected. All other foreign returnee clusters have been of smaller sizes ranging from two to three cases or no infections at all.
While the Tablighi Jamaat cluster with 46 infection cases (persons who attended the Delhi Markaz with foreign attendees in March and their contacts) out of 1100 samples tested is the biggest local cluster in Karnataka, the most mysterious one is the 35 member cluster linked to the pharma firm Jubilant Generics Ltd which is based in the Nanjangud region of Mysuru.
The pharma firm cluster makes up 10.5 percent of the cases in Karnataka at present.
Health officials are yet to establish the origin of the infections at the pharma firm where the first case P52, a 35-year-old employee in the quality assurance department of the firm, tested positive for the virus on March 26. Since then the number of persons in the Mysuru cluster has grown with five new cases reported on April 11 in the cluster.
While health officials initially suggested that the infection may have occurred through raw material or packaging for the raw material which was imported from China, they have now moved to a theory of possible infection by interactions of workers with foreigners who visited the firm or the Mysuru region around the time of the Covid 19 outbreak.
“We have asked the NIV to study the packaging and raw material and provide a report,” the director of the Karnataka health and family welfare department Dr Om Prakash Patil said. Sources in the health department however said “it is more or less established that the infections began after workers came in contact with a visitor from abroad,” the sources said.
“Nothing on this is certain and everything is under study and all leads are being followed,” a senior Karnataka health official said. Health officials have poured to CCTV TV footage at the firm and have used the assistance of police to establish origin of the Mysuru Covid 19 cluster.
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