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India’s first coronavirus infection confirmed in Kerala

Alarm bells: People outside a hospital in Thrissur where an nCoV patient has been kept in isolation on January 30, 2020.

Alarm bells: People outside a hospital in Thrissur where an nCoV patient has been kept in isolation on January 30, 2020.   | Photo Credit: K.K. Najeeb

Student from Thrissur district was studying in Wuhan; her condition is stable.

India, on Thursday, reported its first positive case of the novel coronavirus (nCoV) from Kerala with a student, who was studying in Wuhan University and had travelled to India, testing positive for the virus.

A Union Health Ministry statement said the “student is in isolation at the hospital. The student is stable and is being closely monitored.”

Following the first case, the government has announced that all persons who have come from China after January 15, will be tested for the virus as it has an incubation period of 14 days. It has also prescribed a 14-day home isolation regimen and advised that trips to China should be avoided.

“India till date has screened 234 flights and 43,346 passengers. Worldwide we have a total of 7,711 confirmed cases and 170 deaths,” a senior Health Ministry official said.


Director of the Indian Council of Medical Research-National Institute of Virology, Pune, Dr. Priya Abraham, said: “Forty-nine samples have been tested till now and one sample has tested positive. Now a next test known as “next gen sequencing test” will be done on the sample and the final result will be declared by Friday evening .”

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Thursday reconvened the emergency committee on the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) under the International Health Regulations (IHR 2005). The committee will re-consider declaring nCoV outbreak a global public health emergency and also advise on recommendations to manage the outbreak.

Thrissur on alert

Thrissur in Kerala has been put on high alert after one of the four persons admitted to the isolation ward of the district general hospital with symptoms of novel coronavirus infection (nCoV), tested positive. The other three persons tested negative for the virus. The condition of the patient is stable, according to Health Department sources.


A 24-hour control room has been set up at the District Medical Office and the district Collectorate.

The student had reached Kolkata from Wuhan, China, on the night of January 23. She travelled to Kochi the next day from where she went to her hometown in Thrissur.

Getting to know about the alert the next day from the news media, she reached the nearest primary health centre at Mathilakam to inform the Health officials about her travel. As she had not shown any symptoms of flu, she was advised to remain home for 28 days and maintain personal hygiene besides wearing mask. She was also given a contact number in case she developed any fever or cough or other symptoms of flu. On January 27, she contacted the District Surveillance Officer when she developed flu symptoms. The district team reached her house and moved her to the isolation ward at the Thrissur General Hospital.

The same day, her body fluid sample was sent to the National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune. On Thursday morning, the NIV informed that the case was positive. 

People, who were in contact with the student have been put under house quarantine. The Health Department is also tracking and identifying persons who may have come into contact with her. 

Isolation rooms

Special isolation rooms have been set up in government Medical College Hospital (MCH), Thrissur, to treat cases of nCoV infections. In all, 20 pay-ward rooms have been vacated to make the special arrangements. The isolation ward has been set up according to Standard Operative Procedure.

“The MCH is ready to take up the challenge. “A special medical team has been readied. Safety measures and medicines are in place. Steps have been taken to take care of safety of doctors and other workers,” according to RMO C.P. Murali.


The infected patient may be shifted to the MCH, Thrissur, on Thursday night after a Rapid Reaction medical team will reach there with the Health Minister, to examine her.

The Health Department has asked people, who returned from China, to report without any delay. The officials have asked people visiting general hospital and the area around it to wear masks.

Jugal Kishore, director professor and head of department-community medicine, Vardhman Mahavir Medical College (VMMC) said: “There is no vaccine or drug available against the virus. Only symptomatic treatment is available. We still don’t know how the virus will behave in the new population. Prevention and strict surveillance is very important in India.”

Evacuation from Hubei

Meanwhile, stating that India is still awaiting necessary approval from China to evacuate Indians in Hubei province of China, External Affairs Ministry’s spokesperson Raveesh Kumar, on Thursday said: “We have established contact with over 600 Indians across the province and are individually ascertaining their willingness to be repatriated. We are working round-the-clock on the ground to work out the necessary logistics. Arrangements are being put in place for people to travel to the airport.”

 “We have made a formal request to the government of China for bringing back Indian nationals from the Hubei province in two flights. We are conducting regular review on the situation arising out of the outbreak of nCoronavirus in China,” Mr. Kumar added.

“People need not panic. But we need to take preventive measures. Wash hands with soap and water frequently. Cover mouth and nose with medical mask or tissue when sneezing or coughing. Avoid close contact with anyone who has fever or cough. Seek medical help in case of fever, cough or difficulty in breathing,” officials said.

The Health Ministry also advised that those with a travel history to China after their return should — for a period of 14 days — sleep in a separate room, limit contact with other family members and avoid visitors and close contact with anyone with cold or flu like symptoms (maintain a distance of at least 1 meter from any individual).

“Thermal screening sensors are operational and few more such equipment are being procured. The immigration and other staff members at the airports have been sensitized and dedicated ambulances are placed at ports. We also held mock drill for checking preparedness and management of possible cases. Deployment of medical and para-medical staff is also being done for round-the-clock service,” the official said. He added that hospitals have prepared isolation wards while personal protection equipments and masks are available in adequate quantity in all the States/UTs. 

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Printable version | Feb 25, 2020 6:39:18 PM |

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