Amid reports that a woman from Kerala working in Saudi Arabia had tested positive for the deadly coronavirus, which has killed 18 people in China, the Indian Consulate in Jeddah on Thursday tweeted a clarification saying that she had been infected by another strain of the coronavirus, namely the 'Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus' (MERS-CoV).
A tweet by the consulate quoted a doctor as confirming that the woman, who is working as a nurse in Saudi Arabia, was suffering from MERS-CoV and cautioned against sharing incorrect information about the case. The coronavirus strain that has surfaced in China is known as 2019-nCoV)(Wuhan).
Dr Tarik Al Azraqi, Chairman, Scientific Regional Infection Control Committee, Aseer Region, has confirmed that d Indian Nurse being treated at Aseer National Hospital is suffering from MERS-CoV & not 2019-NCoV (Wuhan). We request everyone to refrain from sharing incorrect info.
— India in Jeddah (@CGIJeddah) January 23, 2020
Earlier on Thursday, Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan said that the nurse had tested positive for the coronavirus, however, he didn't specify which strain had infected the woman.
Update from @CGIJeddah : About 100 Indian nurses mostly from Kerala working at Al-Hayat hospital have been tested and none except one nurse was found infected by Corona virus. Affected nurse is being treated at Aseer National Hospital and is recovering well. @PMOIndia @MEAIndia https://t.co/jM0u5243GV
— V. Muraleedharan (@MOS_MEA) January 23, 2020
The 2019-nCoV virus is also being referred to as the 'Wuhan' virus after the Chinese city which is the epicentre of the outbreak. The virus has killed at least 18 people in China so far, according to Reuters, leading the Xi Jinping government to shut down three cities, including Wuhan, to contain the spread of the virus.
Soon after reports of the woman being infected, which would have been the first Indian case of the virus, Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan wrote to External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar asking him to ensure that the woman gets expert treatment, reports said.
Reports said that the nurse, who has been identified as hailing from Ettumanoor in Kerala's Kottayam district, was infected when she came in contact with a Filipino nurse in Saudi Arabia.
Urging the MEA to take the case seriously, Vijayan, in his letter to Jaishankar, said, "Corona outbreak among nurses in Azir Aba Al Hayat hospital in Saudi Arabia should be considered seriously and necessary steps must be taken."
The MEA said that a screening process has been instituted for people coming from China.
"As far as protecting oneself while living in China is concerned, our Missions have made an effort for this there. But if you come to India you will have to go through the screening process," MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said in the weekly press briefing.
Between 9,000 to 13,000 passengers have reportedly been screened for the coronavirus so far at airports across India, including Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Bengaluru, Kochi, Hyderabad, and Kolkata.
Thermal screening is being conducted for passengers arriving from China, including Hong Kong, The Indian Express reported.
With inputs from agencies
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Updated Date: Jan 23, 2020 23:49:43 IST