One of Kerala’s three coronavirus patients discharged after recovery

Health Minister says all Indians evacuated from Wuhan have tested negative for the deadly infection

Harsh Vardhan
Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan addresses a press conference on Thursday | PTI Photo

One of the three medical students in Kerala, who had tested positive for novel coronavirus infection, was discharged after recovery, said Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Thursday (February 13). All three students were treated at a hospital in Kerala.

About the other two, the minister said, subsequent tests showed a significant reduction in “viral load”. “We are still waiting for confirmatory results before discharging them. They are stable and recovering. They will be discharged soon,” Vardhan said.

Addressing a press conference, Vardhan said a total of 2,51,447 persons travelling in 2,315 flights have been screened so far. Besides, 15,991 people across the country have been kept on community surveillance. Of them, 497 have been identified as symptomatic cases and isolated while 41 have been hospitalised, Vardhan said.

He said 645 Indians and seven Maldivians evacuated from China’s Wuhan city kept at the quarantine facilities set up by the Army and Indo Tibetan Border Police in and around Delhi, have tested negative for coronavirus. They will be kept under observation and their samples will be re-tested on day 14 of the quarantine period before being discharged, Vardhan said.

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Vardhan further said India has extended support to Maldives in testing samples and to Bhutan in managing the disease. “India has also agreed to support Afghanistan in testing samples. India is also extending help to China by sending essential items for combating nCoV as per a commitment made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi as a goodwill gesture,” Vardhan said.

He said the Indian government is in touch with the Japan government regarding the two Indian crew infected with coronavirus onboard a cruise ship off the Japanese coast. “They have been hospitalised. The ship’s quarantine period will get over on February 19,” he said, adding the Ministry of External Affairs is keeping a close watch on it.

He also informed that surveillance at Points of Entry (PoE) is continuing at 21 airports, 12 major ports, 65 minor ports and at six land crossings. Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP) is carrying out community-based surveillance of passengers travelling from China, Singapore, Thailand, South Korea and Japan.

The ICMR is providing the laboratory support with NIV Pune as the nodal laboratory and 14 other network laboratories. This can be expanded to include 50 laboratories if the situation so demands. So far 1,071 samples have been tested, out of which 1,068 were found negative and only three have already tested positive in Kerala, the minister said as he elaborated on how the ministry had traced their contact history.

Two air passengers quarantined in Kolkata

Two passengers, who arrived at Kolkata international airport from Bangkok, have been placed in isolation for suspected novel coronavirus, officials said on Thursday. A passenger named Himadri Barman was quarantined on Tuesday, and Nagendra Singh on Wednesday, government officials said in New Delhi.

Both passengers were sent to Beliaghata ID Hospital, a Kolkata airport official said. Earlier, a passenger named Anita Oraon had also shown signs of fever during thermal scanning, Kolkata airport director Kaushik Bhattacharjee said.

Meanwhile, the Health and Family Welfare Department of the West Bengal government has said nobody in the state has tested positive for coronavirus. “The Department of Health and Family Welfare, Government of West Bengal hereby informs the general public that no one in West Bengal has tested positive (for the virus) till date,” he said.

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“The statement attributed to the Airport Director is factually incorrect. The state government has been diligently dealing with the matter and as of the evening of 13th February 2020, of all the persons screened and samples taken in the state, not a single person has tested positive,” state health secretary Vivek Kumar said in a press statement.

Already two airlines which had direct flights between Kolkata and China have suspended their operations. Low-cost carrier IndiGo has temporarily suspended its flights between Kolkata and Guangzhou from February 6. After IndiGo, China Eastern Airlines suspended its flights between Kolkata and Kunming in China from February 10 to February 29.

Meanwhile, Modi wrote a letter of appreciation to the officials of Air India and health ministry who undertook the evacuation process from Wuhan. “The prime minister has issued a letter of appreciation to the team members of the evacuation operations. This letter would be handed over to the crew by the Minister of State for Civil Aviation,” a PMO statement said.

The death toll from the coronavirus outbreak rose to 1,310 China on Thursday while the number of those affected by the deadly virus has spiralled to 48,206.

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