The number of coronavirus cases in India rose to 47 Monday, with two confirmed cases being reported from Maharashtra’s Pune. Karnataka, Punjab, Kerala, New Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir have also reported new cases. This includes 44 active cases and three that have already recovered in Kerala.
One of the two persons, who were admitted to a hospital in Punjab’s Amritsar with symptoms of COVID-19, tested positive for coronavirus, the report from NIV, Pune, confirmed on Monday evening. The person has a travel history to Italy. In Karnataka, the person who tested positive is a techie and had returned from the US to Bengaluru on March 1.
Among the four patients who tested positive earlier in the day, the one in Delhi had travelled to Italy and in Uttar Pradesh’s Meerut the patient was infected after he came in contact with six people from Agra who had tested positive for coronavirus.
Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan held an emergency meeting with Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal where they discussed developing isolation wards, quarantine facilities, availability of doctors, contact tracing and other precautionary measures if the cases spike in the coming days. “States have been asked to form early rapid action team to deal with coronavirus,” Harsh Vardhan said. The government has also asked the central armed police forces (CAPF) to prepare 54,000-bed quarantine facilities across India.
As per the latest numbers, at least 3,003 have been tested for the virus in the country, out of which 2,694 have tested negative. Over 8.7 lakh passengers have been screened from 8,255 flights. Out of these, 35,599 passengers are under observation. At least 1,921 have been identified as symptomatic and 177 hospitalised. 21,867 passengers have completed the observation period, the Health Ministry said.
Domestic stock markets also suffered sharp losses with the benchmark equity indices on the BSE and NSE tumbling due to rising concerns over the economic impact of coronavirus. Oil prices also registered their biggest daily loss since 1991 after Saudi Arabia slashed prices and pledged to unleash its pent-up supply onto a market reeling from falling demand because of the coronavirus outbreak.
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 who 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 this he got admitted to a private hospital in the city,” Sudhakar said. 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).
“His wife, child and a colleague have also been admitted to the isolation ward set up at Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Chest Diseases in Bengaluru,” Medical Education Minister Dr K Sudhakar confirmed.
To contain the spread of coronavirus, all primary schools (till class 5) in Bengaluru (aided, unaided, private) would remain closed till further orders from March 10. The pre-primary schools in Bengaluru have already been closed till further orders. “The neighbouring states of Kerala, Telangana, and Tamil Nadu have also reported positive cases. In this regard, it is requested to take steps for the closure of pre-KG, LKG and UKG schools in BBMP and Bangalore urban areas with immediate effect and till further orders to prevent the transmission of novel coronavirus in the community,” a letter sent to top officials of the education department by Karnataka Health Commissioner Pankaj Kumar Pandey read.
A three-year-old child, who recently returned from Italy via Dubai, has tested positive for coronavirus, becoming the youngest patient across the country, the state health authorities said. The samples of the parents have been sent to further tests. The family is admitted to the Kalamassery Medical College and is stable.
On the outset of new cases, Cochin International Airport Limited (CIAL) has decided to expand universal screening to domestic arrival passengers too. Universal screening had started for international passengers on 3rd March. New health counters were added to both international and domestic arrival areas. On average, the airport handles 15,000 arrival passengers.
Yesterday, five fresh coronavirus cases were reported in the state. Three of them had returned from Italy and had not reported to the screening at Kochi airport, Health Minister K K Shaylaja said. The other two are their relatives. The family, however, alleged that they were not told about the preventive measure at the airport. “At the Kochi airport, I told the immigration official that we are from Italy and returning home after four years. The official did not tell us that we should undergo screening for coronavirus. Hence, we came out. Will anyone deliberately skip such screening?” 25-year-old infected with the virus told The Indian Express. The authorities are making a frantic search for all those who may have had come in touch with the family.
One person in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir has been tested positive for the novel coronavirus (Covid-2019). The patient had recently travelled to Iran and South Korea and has been kept at a quarantine facility in Government Medical College Hospital at Jammu. Another patient, who had also travelled to Iran and South Korea, exhibiting symptoms similar to coronavirus has been quarantined and the test results are awaited. “The final test report in case of one of the two is positive while another is awaited,” a senior health department official said.
In the first stage, a nasal or throat swab is tested for the presence of the virus — to detect the “viral load”. Strands of genetic material (for the novel coronavirus it is RNA) are isolated through a process called Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR). This test can happen at any of the labs in the chart alongside. In the next stage, the identity of the virus is confirmed through genome sequencing. This test is available only at the National Institute of Virology, Pune. The test was developed almost overnight after the identity of the novel coronavirus was revealed in December last year.
Qatar has temporarily barred travellers from 14 countries including India from March 9 as a precaution against the rapidly spreading coronavirus. The ban covers China, Egypt, India, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Syria and Thailand. 15 cases have been reported in the country.
The benchmark equity indices on the BSE and the National Stock Exchange (NSE) edged below 5 per cent in early afternoon deals on Monday tracking weakness in the global markets. The S&P BSE Sensex crashed as much as 2,238.96 points (5.96 per cent) to 35,337.66 during the afternoon trade on Monday, while the broader Nifty 50 index on the NSE slipped as much as 625.85 points (5.70 per cent) to 10,363.60. Among the stocks on Sensex, shares of oil-to-telecom behemoth Reliance Industries (RIL) crashed over 11 per cent to Rs 1,128.90 during the afternoon trade on Monday. This apart, state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) too declined over 13.5 per cent to Rs 77.00 apiece.
Oil prices fell as much as 31% following the Saudi move to start a price war after Russia balked at making the further steep output cuts proposed by OPEC to stabilize oil markets hit by worries over the global spread of the coronavirus. Brent crude futures were down $11.31, or 25%, at $33.96 a barrel by 0319 GMT, after earlier dropping to $31.02, their lowest since Feb. 12, 2016. Brent futures are on track for their biggest daily decline since Jan. 17, 1991, at the start of the first Gulf War.
The Karnataka health department on Monday took stringent measures to bring back a symptomatic passenger to Wenlock District Hospital in Mangaluru after he chose to leave the isolation ward where he was kept under observation. According to Dakshina Kannada District Health Officer, Dr Sikandar Pasha, the passenger landed in Mangalore International Airport on a flight from Dubai on Sunday. “The passenger boarded the flight without any symptoms but developed high fever during his flight from Dubai to Mangaluru. As soon as he was screened at the airport, he was brought to Wenlock Hospital where he was kept under observation for 24 hours. However, the passenger chose to avoid the doctor’s advice to stay in isolation at the hospital and went back home,” he told indianexpress.com. Another doctor from the hospital alleged that the passenger denied providing samples for testing as well.