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Coronavirus scare: 3-year-old in Kerala among five new cases, count is 44, three others under watch

The three-year-old from Kerala, who had travelled to Italy with his parents, had arrived in Kochi, via Dubai, on March 7.

Written by Abantika Ghosh , Avishek Dastidar | New Delhi |
March 10, 2020 4:44:42 am
coronavirus, coronavirus in India, coronavirus India cases, coronavirus infection, COVID-19, India news, Indian Express The other new cases were reported from Jammu, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Punjab. (File Photo)

FIVE NEW coronavirus cases — including a three-year-old boy in Kerala — were reported on Monday, taking the total number of cases detected across the country to 44, including three in Kerala who were discharged last month.

The other new cases were reported from Jammu, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Punjab.

In Maharashtra, civic health officials said a couple from Pune with a travel history to Dubai had tested positive. Karnataka Health Secretary Jawed Akhtar said a software engineer who had returned from the United States on March 1 had also tested positive in the state. However, the Union Health Ministry is yet to confirm these cases.

The three-year-old from Kerala, who had travelled to Italy with his parents, had arrived in Kochi, via Dubai, on March 7. The patient in Jammu, the first case in J&K, had travelled to Iran; the Uttar Pradesh patient is linked to the six people from Agra who had tested positive last week — the person worked as an accountant in the factory of one of the Agra patients; the Delhi patient is a contact of the Paytm employee from Uttam Nagar who had tested positive earlier; the Punjab patient is learnt to be an NRI from Italy.

The health ministry clarified that a patient from Murshidabad, West Bengal, who died on Sunday had tested negative for COVID-19 and “hence so far no death has been reported due to the disease in the country”.

Meanwhile, the government sent an aircraft to Iran to evacuated stranded Indians — mostly pilgrims and students. “An IAF C-17 ‘Globemaster’ aircraft got airborne today at 2030 hrs from Hindan airbase to airlift Indian citizens from Iran. The aircraft has a specialist medical team onboard. Indian citizens will be flown to Hindan where medical facilities including quarantine have been set up,” the Indian Air Force tweeted.

It said the aircraft would return on Tuesday morning.

The Centre has asked the paramilitary forces to build isolation facilities for over 5,000 people. The Indian Railways has also prepared 2,000 isolation wards in its 91 hospitals across the country, and has identified quarantine facilities for 20,000 patients.

In a statement, the health ministry said: “The five cases from Kerala reported yesterday are three family members with travel history to Italy and two of their relatives who came in contact with them. The family is reported to have visited relatives and attended few functions and their contacts are being traced.”

While this family from Kerala had returned to the country on February 29, they skipped the airport screening for travellers from Italy.

In an appeal, apparently triggered by this case, the Centre asked people to “reveal clearly about their travel history and fill the details in self-declaration forms properly”.

All international passengers are now being screened at airports and seaports.

“It is because of our strength of active community surveillance that we have been able to do effective contact tracing of cases of COVID-19 in India,” said Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan, who chaired a review and coordination meeting with senior Delhi government officials which was also attended by Lt Governor Anil Baijal and Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.

He said the need of the hour was to adopt a more strategic approach like cluster containment, making the district collectors more accountable, contact tracing and strengthening state and district surveillance teams to avoid widespread community transmission and breaking the transmission.

At a video conference with chief secretaries of all states/ UTs, the cabinet secretary focussed on actions like surveillance at points of entry (PoE), surveillance in the community, laboratory support and hospital preparedness. He asked the states/ UTs to scale up logistics, quarantine facilities, capacity building, information management and risk communication.

In all, 11,913 cases are under Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP) community follow-up; 404 Indian contacts of the US citizen who tested positive in Bhutan have been identified and put under surveillance in Assam. A total of 9,41,717 international passengers from 8,827 flights have been screened at airports till now with 54 passengers being referred to IDSP/ hospitals. Of these, 177 have been hospitalised, 33,599 are under observation, and 21,867 have completed their observation period.

Meanwhile, as part of the country’s preparedness, the Indian Railways has prepared 2,000 isolation wards in its hospitals and identified quarantine facilities, including hostel rooms in training institutes in Vadodara, Lucknow, Pune, Hyderabad.

Officials said with the number of positive cases climbing, the “top level” of the government had instructed the Railways to prepare the required infrastructure. Two employees of Northern Railway have been quarantined and their test results are awaited.

Railways has also started announcing health advisories related to coronavirus at stations and premium trains.

The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has sent letters to state governments to take expeditious action in sanitising the public transport service, including buses.

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