Fourteen more people have tested positive for COVID-19 — eight in Kerala and three each in Karnataka and Maharashtra, State authorities said on Tuesday, as the total cases in the country went up to 61.
Of the eight positive cases in Kerala, six belong to the COVID-19 cluster that originated in Pathanamthitta district, all of which are linked to the family that arrived from Italy on February 29. The other two cases are that of the parents of the three-year-old boy who tested positive earlier and is already in isolation at the Government Medical College Hospital, Ernakulam. This family too came from Italy but they landed in Kochi only on March 8.
Nine fresh COVID-19 cases were reported from Kerala and Karnataka on Tuesday, taking the total number of cases in the country to 56. The virus has now spread to over 100 countries across the world.
On Tuesday evening, Pune District Collector Naval Kishore Ram confirmed that two more persons had tested positive for the virus.
The daughter of a Pune couple, who tested positive on Monday, a co-passenger and the Ola cab driver who ferried the couple from the Mumbai airport to Pune on their return from Dubai on March 1, were the latest to test positive in Maharashtra, said State health officials.
While all the new cases reported on Tuesday are yet to be confirmed by the Union Health Ministry, Special Secretary (Health), Sanjeeva Kumar, said: “The total number of positive cases are now 50. Of these, 34 are Indian nationals and 16 are citizens of Italy. There has been no death in the country due to the coronavirus so far.”
Airlifted from Iran
On Tuesday, 58 Indians were airlifted from Iran. “Mission completed. On to the next,” Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar tweeted after the Indian Air Force aircraft, C-17 Globemaster, carrying the evacuated Indians landed in Ghaziabad.
Combination of drugs
Meanwhile, the Health Ministry has said that it has, for the first time, used a combination of two drugs primarily brought in for HIV treatment. These drugs have been used for treating the elderly Italian couple at a Jaipur hospital.
The Drug Controller General of India has approved the “restricted use” of the combination of medications Lopinavir and Ritonavir — second-line HIV drugs — for treating those affected by novel coronavirus.
In Kerala, cinema halls will be shut till March 31 and about 270 people who came in contact with coronavirus patients have been traced. Ninety-five of them are in the “high-risk category,” according to officials.
Surveillance has been strengthened after fresh cases emerged in the State. “About 1,116 people are under observation, 976 are under home quarantine while 149 are in hospitals. They include people with symptoms as well,” Kerala Health Minister K.K. Shailaja said.
The Indian Medical Association (IMA) on Tuesday appealed to the government to classify the data of the epidemic and take appropriate action with clinical precision.
“Sharing of data on daily basis with the public who are clueless as to what is expected of them has created panic across the country,” the IMA said.
The association has also asked doctors to function as a source of credible information in their locality and instil confidence and trust.
“It cannot be denied that the high-handed, top-down response in China is part of the reason for this global panic. The nuanced and balanced approach of the Indian government is certainly better suited to handle the crisis in a country of 1.3 billion people,” the IMA said.
The Central government has in a release issued late on Tuesday night noted that all regular Visas (including e-Visas) which have been granted to nationals of France, Germany and Spain on or before March 11, 2020 and where these foreigners have not yet entered India stand suspended.
“Visas of all foreigners already in India remain valid and they may contact the nearest FRRO/FRO through e-FRRO module for extension/conversion etc of their visa or grant of any consular service, if they choose to do so. A notification to this effect is being issued by the Bureau of Immigration (BOI),” it added.
Giving details of the confirmed 50 cases, the Health Ministry said that after the 44 positive cases declared on Monday, three positive cases were reported from Bengaluru (with travel history from the U.S. via Dubai); one more from Bengaluru with travel history from the U.S. via Heathrow; and two positive cases from Pune (travel history from Dubai).
The Ministry added that more than 1,400 contacts have been put under surveillance for these positive cases, till date.
Also, 404 Indian contacts of the U.S. citizen tested positive for COVID-19 in Bhutan have been identified and put under surveillance in Assam.
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