Delhi hospital keeping two suspected COVID-19 cases in isolation

Indians airlifted from Wuhan being examined at a quarantine facility set by up the ITBP in the Capital, on Friday.

Indians airlifted from Wuhan being examined at a quarantine facility set by up the ITBP in the Capital, on Friday.   | Photo Credit: PTI

Healthcare institutions have been asked to stock-up on medicines and other equipment, says Union Health Minister

Ram Manohar Lohia (RML) Hospital here, the nodal hospital for management/treatment of COVID-19 cases, has reported two suspected cases of the virus. The patients are being kept in isolation, said officials. The hospital has, so far, seen 40 suspected cases but has discharged 38 patients after they tested negative for the virus.

“The hospital currently has two suspected cases who have been kept under isolation,” confirmed hospital authorities.

The hospitals here, including All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Safdarjung Hospital, have been on red alert — to take-in, isolate and if infected treat COVID-19 — for nearly a month now.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has called COVID-19 “public enemy number one”, which could create significant political, economic and social upheaval.

Regional director WHO (South-East Asia) Poonam Khetrapal Singh explained that the emergence of any new pathogen with the potential to cause severe illness and death is of grave concern and must be taken with utmost seriousness.

She said so far the vast majority of cases have been reported in China and that most of these in other countries have direct links to Wuhan or other parts of China.

She added that the risk for the region, as globally, is high in view of the region’s proximity to and connectivity with China and the epicentre of the outbreak — Wuhan.

Task force in place

While the virus has now spread to at least 24 countries, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan noted that the Ministry has put in place a task force to monitor the situation with representatives from the Ministries of Health, Home, Civil Aviation and Women and Child Development among others. “The situation is being monitored round-the-clock and we are holding review meetings daily. Also, all hospitals across the country are on high alert and have been told to stock up on medicines and other personal protection equipment,” he added.

The Delhi government has also issued a public health advisory on the virus.

“The advisory prescribed do’s and dont’s for the public to ward off any infection. The government has also set-up a 24x7 control room for the citizens for any query related to virus. A round-the-clock control room has also been set up at the Directorate General of Health Services’ headquarters to address queries related to the virus,” said a health official.

Dr. Singh noted that as per current information, the virus can cause mild, flu-like symptoms as well as more severe disease. Patients infected with the disease are presenting with a wide range of symptoms, she said, adding that most of them seem to have mild disease and about 20% appear to progress to severe disease, including pneumonia, respiratory failure and in some cases death.

2% people died

“Chinese authorities said about 2% of people with the disease have died although the exact case-fatality ratio is still difficult to assess as the denominator [or number of infections] remains unknown. However, this is a new disease and our understanding is changing rapidly,” Dr. Singh said.

She also said WHO is continuing to analyse information on both current and any new cases as this is critical to enhancing our understanding of the severity of the illness. “Based on the information received so far and on our experience with coronaviruses such as MERS and SARS, it seems that COVID-19 appears to spread mostly by close person-to-person contact, through respiratory routes, in this case, droplets [for instance produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes or during certain health care procedures] and contaminated surfaces [when one infected person and another one are sharing a cup for instance]. This is why we recommend maintaining proper hand and respiratory hygiene,” she said.

She added that the actual source of the virus remains unknown “but it is likely that a zoonotic spillover event/events likely to have occurred for the virus to transmit from a potential animal source to humans and for the human to human transmission to happen”.

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Printable version | Feb 22, 2020 7:25:52 PM |

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