Coronavirus cases in India rise to 30 after Ghaziabad man tests positive; Harsh Vardhan asks villages to form response teams
A man from Ghaziabad with a recent travel history to Iran has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, taking the total number of cases in the country to 30 and seven in Uttar Pradesh as the Central Government on Thursday asked states to form rapid response teams at district, block and village levels.
In some relief for Telangana, blood samples of two people from the state which were sent to the National Institute of Virology (NIV) in Pune for confirmation, tested negative.
Till Wednesday, 29 people, including 16 Italian tourists, had tested positive for coronavirus. The list also includes the first three cases in the country from Kerala last month. The three patients have been discharged after recovery.
Meanwhile, five people who came in contact with the Gurugram PayTM employee have been tested and quarantined till their results come in, Delhi government health officials said on Thursday.
The PayTM employee, who tested positive for the contagious disease with flu-like symptoms on Wednesday, came in touch with 91 people in Gurugram, an official said. Delhi government health officials are also coordinating with their counterparts in Noida to ascertain the number of people he came in contact with.
Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia announced that all primary schools in the National Capital will remain closed till 31 March to prevent the possibility of spread of coronavirus. The outbreak also cast a shadow on the India-European Union (EU) summit which was slated to be held later this month and will now be rescheduled.
According to MEA Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar, India and the EU decided to reschedule Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Brussels in view of the advice by health authorities. He also said no case of any Indian being affected by coronavirus in Iran has emerged and Indian embassies across the world are on the job to help Indians.
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said that an Indian medical team is in Iran and the authorities are working with their Iranian counterparts for the return of Indians stranded in the West Asian country in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak in the country. He also said the Indian medical team was likely to set up its first clinic at Qom to start screening for coronavirus.
An estimated 1,200 Indians, mostly students and pilgrims, are in Iran currently.
Harsh Vardhan briefs Parliament on govt's measures
Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, asserting that India is prepared to contain the spread of coronavirus, sought to allay fears in his speeches in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha on Thursday.
He said that the government is taking all steps to prevent the spread of coronavirus and the scale of interventions has been increased in alignment with the evolving situation in India.
"As of 4 March, a total of 28,529 persons were brought under community surveillance and are being monitored," Vardhan said as he detailed the evacuation of of Indians by Air India and IAF.
Making a statement first in Rajya Sabha and then in Lok Sabha on steps taken to contain the virus, he said as on 4 March, 29 positive cases have been reported in the country. Official sources on Thursday said one more case of novel coronavirus was reported in Ghaziabad and the middle-aged man had a recent travel history to Iran.
The health ministry also said that in addition to travel-related COVID-19 infections, some cases of community transmission have also been observed and so the mnistry has decided to involve district collectors, and states have been asked to form rapid response teams at the district, block and village levels.
The ministry also said that India has imposed additional visa restrictions on people travelling from or having visited Italy and South Korea, making it mandatory for them to submit a certificate of having tested negative for COVID-19 from laboratories authorised by the health authorities of their countries.
This will come into effect from midnight on 10 March and is a temporary measure till cases of novel coronavirus subside, the ministry said in a travel advisory.
The government has already suspended all regular visas/e-visas granted on or before 3 March to nationals of Italy, Iran, South Korea, Japan who have not yet entered India in view of the emerging global scenarios regarding COVID-19 disease.
According to the advisory, the government has also suspended visa on arrival (VoA) for Japanese and South Korean nationals.
On Thursday, Vardhan also issued a travel advisory saying that citizens are advised to refrain from traveling to virus affected-areas of China, Korea, Japan, Italy and Iran. He said directions have also been issued for all international passengers in India.
Congress MP Ghulam Nabi Azad also said that awareness campaigns must be initiated at railway stations. "We need to send out a multi-lingual instruction for dos and don’ts on coronavirus," Azad added.
Amid reports of the coronavirus outbreak in China affecting the Indian pharma industry, Union Chemicals and Fertilizers Minister Sadanand Gowda said that there is no shortage of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients for at least three months. Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients are the raw materials required to produce medicines and are also referred to as bulk drugs.
14 Italians quaratined in Gurugram hospital
Meanwhile, 14 Italians, who are among those who have tested positive, have been shifted to the Medanta Hospital in Gurgaon from an ITBP quarantine centre. The hospital issued a statement on Thursday morning, saying these patients are housed on a completely separate floor, which has been quarantined and has no contact with the rest of the hospital.
There is a dedicated medical team wearing protective gear looking after these patients. All items used on the floor are isolated to that floor.
The isolated floor will completely contain the disease even with these asymptomatic persons. All other hospital operations are operating as normal, and there is no increased risk to patients, visitors or staff, the statement said.
Twenty-one Italian tourists and their three Indian tour operators were shifted out from an ITBP quarantine centre on Wednesday as they were exposed to novel coronavirus. An affected Italian couple is being treated at Jaipur's SMS Medical College.
UP govt tests 175 people, Sikkim suspends ILP to foreigners
Uttar Pradesh health minister Jai Pratap Singh said 175 people have been tested so far for coronavirus in the state with 157 of them showing no sign of the infection. Of the remaining 18 tested, six are from Agra and one from Ghaziabad, he said, referring to the seven cases which have tested positive.
The reports of the remaining 11 are yet to be received from National Institute of Virology in Pune, according to the minister.
In Madhya Pradesh's Seoni, seven people from three families have been isolated at home for suspected exposure to the coronavirus following their return from Italy last month. Though none of them exhibited symptoms of the infection, the step was taken as a precaution as Italy is the worst-affected country in Europe from the coronavirus, PTI reported.
Meanwhile, the Sikkim government has decided to suspend issuing Inner Line Permit (ILP) to foreign nationals following coronavirus scare as a precautionary measure. Foreign nationals are required to obtain ILP from the state government to visit Sikkim, while a domestic tourist must get permit from the Tourism and Civil Aviation Department to visit Nathu La, a mountain pass in East Sikkim district which links the state with China's Tibet Autonomous Region.
Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray also appealed for calm and said that the next eight days are crucial and people need to remain cautious. Requesting people to avoid going to crowded places if not necessary and limit the Holi celebrations, Thackeray said.
"I pray the coronavirus gets burnt in the Holi fire. I want to tell people that the next eight days are crucial and we have to remain cautious," he said while making a statement in the state Assembly.
Drugs in pipeline to treat coronavirus
In the information (and fake news) overload that one is subjected to about the novel coronavirus, the one fact that appears most frequently is that the virus remains untreatable and the treatment includes symptomatic approach rather than an exact cure. However, that is not to say that research and development of vaccines and drugs to treat this new pandemic is on a standstill.
Favilavir first approved coronavirus drug in China: China has approved the use of Favilavir, an anti-viral drug, as a treatment for coronavirus. The drug has reportedly shown efficacy in treating the disease with minimal side effects in a clinical trial involving 70 patients.
INO-4800, China's latest vaccine under clinical trial: China's Inovio Pharmaceuticals has collaborated with Beijing Advaccine Biotechnology Company to develop INO-4800, a novel coronavirus vaccine. It is expected to be ready for clinical trials by the end of April.
Altimmune’s intranasal coronavirus vaccine: An intranasal COVID-19 vaccine is being developed by US-based clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company, Altimmune. Design and synthesis of the single-dose vaccine has been completed, while animal testing will follow.
Toll in Iran rises to 107, epidemic spreads to South Africa
The toll due to the epidemic in Iran increased to 107 on Thursday, and the disease also spread to South Africa, Bosnia, Herzegovina, and Slovenia, reports said. A 74-year-old woman suffering from the coronavirus died in Switzerland, marking the country's first death in the outbreak.
Palestinian officials also announced on Thursday that the storied Church of the Nativity in the biblical city of Bethlehem was closing indefinitely over fears of the coronavirus, weeks ahead of the Easter holiday that draws tens of thousands of visitors and worshippers.
Meanwhile, California governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency after coronavirus deaths stood at 107 in the United States. The governor's decision came after the first death was reported in California.
With inputs from agencies
Updated Date: Mar 06, 2020 07:17:22 IST
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