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 and reached the airport around 3 p.m. in an Indigo flight. She reached her hometown Thrissur by 10 p.m.
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 person have been put under house quarantine. The Health Department is also tracking and identifying persons who may have come into contact with her.
Isolation wards ready
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, who will reach here with the Health Minister, 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.
“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.
Senior Health officials told The Hindu that the airport Health authorities had put up information for travellers from China to contact the Health Services for any enquiry on corona virus at Disha 0471- 2552056 or 1056.
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.
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.”