Coronavirus | Man back from U.S. is Pune’s ninth case

District authorities tracking 614 people; relatives told not to visit patients in isolation facilities

Updated - March 13, 2020 09:25 am IST

Published - March 13, 2020 01:42 am IST - Pune

No practice today:  Young cricketers are greeted by a notice at Nehru stadium in Pune announcing that the facility is closed due to the novel coronavirus outbreak.

No practice today: Young cricketers are greeted by a notice at Nehru stadium in Pune announcing that the facility is closed due to the novel coronavirus outbreak.

One more person from the city tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday, taking the number of confirmed patients of the infection in the city to nine, district authorities said.

District Collector Naval Kishore Ram said the person in question had arrived from the U.S. on March 1 and his samples were taken on March 11.

The condition of all nine patients who are in isolation at the Naidu Infectious Disease Hospital is stable, authorities said. Of these, seven were part of a 40-member group that had travelled to Dubai last month. The eighth is the cab driver who had ferried a couple— the first to test positive in the State — from Mumbai airport to Pune on their return from Dubai on March 1.

Meanwhile, the Pune district authorities are tracking 614 people with a history of foreign travel, Divisional Commissioner Dr. Deepak Mhaisekar said.

Individuals who had travelled after February 15 to any of the seven countries most affected by the virus would immediately be placed in institutional quarantine at isolation facilities set up across the city.

“Persons who had travelled to any of these seven affected countries as per the fresh guidelines issued by the Centre — China, Italy, Iran, the Republic of Korea, France, Spain and Germany — after February 15 will be straight away taken to institutional quarantine facilities. This is distinct from home quarantine, which applies to people who had travelled to these places prior to February 15,” Dr. Mhaisekar said.

Of the 614 persons being tracked, 325 have already crossed the standard 14-day incubation period and had fortunately not shown any symptoms associated with the novel coronavirus infection.

“We will still be contacting them for a further 14 days. The remaining 289 have yet to complete the two-week incubation period and we are following up on them,” said Dr. Mhaisekar.

He also requested relatives not to attempt to visit these individuals at the isolation facilities.

“While we will arrange for them to be contacted through other means, they will not be permitted to come into physical contact with their kin or anybody else,” he said, adding that the quarantine would be strictly enforced across facilities set up in Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad.

Dr. Mhaisekar said samples of 213 suspected cases had been sent to the National Institute of Virology, of which 171 had tested negative while the results of the remaining 42 are awaited.

He said that while travel histories were being taken from passengers returning from abroad after they landed, he had requested airport and immigration authorities to send information on this count before flights left places like Dubai.

“If we can get information about the passengers’ travel histories beforehand, we can estimate how many can be quarantined in advance,” Dr. Mhaisekar said.

He said district authorities would immediately put into effect a containment plan to rein in the spread of the virus, while issuing an advisory urging people to curtail travel. “We have urged cancellation of all public gatherings and meetings. We are putting in place a containment plan which will be enforced in a 3-km radius from where these cases have originated, while movement restrictions will be imposed within a 5-km buffer zone from the origin of the affected or suspected cases,” he said, adding that only prevention could act as a cure for COVID-19 as of now.

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