Coronavirus cases rise to 45 as six more test positive in India

The new cases include a three-year-old child from Ernakulam in Kerala, a 63-year-old woman from Jammu and a software engineer from Bengaluru. A case each has also been detected in Delhi, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh, the Union health ministry said.

The woman from Jammu, the first person to test positive from the Union territory, had visited Iran recently and was among two people said to have “high viral load cases” by the administration over the weekend. The other, who had returned from South Korea, has not yet been confirmed as a positive case, said a person who declined to be named.

The child in Kerala, the youngest person in the country so far, tested positive for the virus after returning from Italy via Dubai. The child’s health, as well as of his parents, are stable and they are in an isolation ward in Ernakulam Medical College, said Amar Fettle, doctor and head of Kerala’s task force to battle Covid-19.

Five others, who also returned from Italy, were announced as positive on Sunday, making the state’s total toll to nine people—the highest for any state in India so far. Of these nine, three have recovered.

The person who tested positive from Uttar Pradesh had come in contact with one of the six patients from Agra, the person said, adding the six people were related to the first patient from Delhi.

In Karnataka, a 40-year-old software engineer with a recent travel history to the US has tested positive, K. Sudhakar, Karnataka’s medical education minister said. The person had travelled from Austin, Texas, on 28 February through New York and then to Dubai, before landing in Bengaluru on 1 March. His wife and daughter have been lodged in a health facility in the city.

The person who tested positive in Punjab is a resident of Hoshiarpur who recently returned from Italy, a state government official told Mint.

With cases mounting, the government has moved into overdrive with surveillance and outreach to people across India through caller tunes creating awareness on basic protection measures to monitoring at airports. The government also introduced a comic book to educate children on the disease and steps to curb its spread.

A total of 1,116 people are under surveillance in Kerala, the state’s health minister K.K. Shailaja said. Of this, 967 people are in home quarantine and the rest 149 isolated in hospitals, she said. Educational institutions in virus-affected Pathanamthitta and Kottayam districts have been shut for three days starting Monday to prevent a potential spread.

Meanwhile, Union health minister Harsh Vardhan and health ministry officials on Monday met Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and other state government officials.

“We have discussed with the Delhi government and chief minister (Kejriwal) that we need to be prepared with isolation wards, quarantine facilities, provision of right treatment by doctors at the right time, contact tracing, and even with precautions that communities have to take and ways to contain the disease in clusters,” Vardhan said. “We have been able to contain the spread of the disease in such a large country by pre-empting and preparing for it beforehand. But that does not mean that we can be complacent now.”

Among the 45 cases confirmed so far, 16 are Italian tourists. Of the five cases confirmed in Kerala on Sunday, three people had a travel history to Italy.

The government has meanwhile sent a C-17 military transport plane to Iran at 8.30 pm on Monday to bring back its citizens stranded in the nation, the health ministry said in a tweet. So far, the government has brought back 890 Indians and other nationals stranded in nations hit by Covid-19.

On Monday, foreign minister S. Jaishankar on a visit to Kashmir met relatives of some of the people stranded in Iran. This followed his Twitter post on Sunday saying that efforts were underway to ensure the return of Indians from Iran.

Sharan Poovanna from Bengaluru, and Elizabeth Roche and Pretika Khanna from New Delhi contributed to this story.

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