Five persons, including two women from Pathanamthitta in Kerala, tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday, taking the total number of confirmed cases across the country to 39.
Kerala Health Minister K.K. Shylaja said the State had been put on high alert in the wake of the new cases. The Minister added that all the passengers who travelled with the infected family on the Venice-Doha Qatar airlines QR 126 flight on February 28 and the Qatar Airlines flight QR514 from Doha to Kochi on February 29 should get in touch with health authorities.
Official sources said three of the infected persons — a couple in their 50s and their 24-year-old son — had reached the Kochi international airport from Venice via Doha. All three, who were reportedly having mild fever, failed to inform the airport authorities or the Health Department officials that they were coming from COVID-affected Italy.
They were received at the airport by a few relatives from Kottayam, and reached their village of Aythala in Ranni the same day.
A brother and sister-in-law of the man who had visited Italy were the first to seek treatment for fever at a private hospital in Ranni on Friday. The doctors found symptoms of COVID-19 and learnt that three of their relatives had recently returned from Italy. The matter was immediately referred to the District Collector and the district Health authorities.
The two patients and their three relatives were shifted to the isolation ward at the Pathanamthitta General Hospital. Laboratory reports released early on Sunday confirmed that all five had COVID-19 infection.
The Collector convened an emergency meeting of health officials at 2.30 a.m.
An action plan was prepared to identify all those who had come in contact with the infected persons. According to officials, the family had reportedly visited a relative’s house in Punalur and the office of the District Police Authority, besides attending a few functions since their return.
The Collector has constituted eight teams, comprising seven members each, including two doctors, to examine the health status of those who came in contact with the five infected persons.
Meanwhile, the 86-year-old mother and 90-year-old father of the infected brothers too were shifted to the isolation ward with fever on Sunday.
According to District Medical Officer A.L. Sheeja and General Hospital Medical Superintendent Ashish Manohar, the condition of all the five infected persons is stable.
The authorities here are preparing the list of those who have interacted with the infected persons to ensure their quarantine for 28 days as part of the disease prevention drive. Ms. Shylaja is expected to visit the district headquarters on Sunday night.
The District Medical Officer told The Hindu that 10 persons, nine at Pathanamthitta General Hospital and one at the District Hospital in Kozhencherry, had been quarantined with suspected COVID-19 symptoms. This is apart from the 159 persons with primary symptoms of the disease under home quarantine in the district as on Sunday afternoon.