The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (Covid-19) epidemic is knocking on Indian doors after infecting tens of thousands of people in over 60 countries across the world. This week, India reported three fresh coronavirus cases, taking the total number of confirmed infections in the country to six. And since then, focus has increasingly shifted to the fallout impact of the new Covid-19 cases and to the question of how ready the country is to fight the global outbreak.
Covid-19 first originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan. The disease, that leads to illnesses ranging from common cold, fever, shortness of breath to pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death, is caused by a kind of coronavirus never seen before. This led to the virus initially being called novel coronavirus 2019 (nCov-19). The disease was later formally labelled Coronavirus Disease 2019 (Covid-19). In the media, it’s being widely called coronavirus.
As of Tuesday, coronavirus has infected more than 89,000 people in over 60 countries. The virus has killed more than 3,000 people in around 8 countries. Most of these cases (80,151 infected and 2,943 dead) are from mainland China, the epicentre of the Covid-19 outbreak, according to figures compiled by news agency Reuters.
India has largely escaped the brunt of the outbreak so far. But the three fresh cases reported this week have brought the spotlight on how prepared the country is to deal with the coronavirus outbreak and how the situation stands currently. Here, we recap everything that’s happened in India vis-à-vis the coronavirus outbreak. Remember, this information is as of March 3.
CORONAVIRUS IN INDIA: CURRENT AND PAST CASES
So far, India has reported six positive cases of coronavirus, or Covid-19. Of these, three were from Kerala and one each from Delhi, Hyderabad and Jaipur. The Kerala cases were reported in February, while the Delhi, Hyderabad and Jaipur infections were confirmed this week.
KERALA: Kerala was the first state in the country to report positive cases of coronavirus. Three residents, all of whom had returned from the coronavirus epicentre Wuhan, tested positive for the disease and were put under isolation. They received treatment in Kerala hospitals and were discharged one after the other after their follow-up tests turned negative. By February 20, all three — all students from Wuhan — were discharged from hospitals.
DELHI: On Monday, two fresh cases of coronavirus were reported in India. Of these, one was of a 45-year-old Delhi man who had returned from Europe on February 25. His travel history revealed that he had travelled from Italy to Budapest in Hungary and finally to Vienna in Austria from where he flew to India on an Air India flight. He is currently under quarantine at a Delhi hospital.
HYDERABAD: The second fresh case reported in India was of a 24-year-old software engineer who had returned from Dubai. The techie had flown from Dubai to Bengaluru, where he works, before travelling to Hyderabad on a bus. In Hyderabad, the techie reported symptoms of Covid-19 and was admitted to a government hospital where he was found to be infected with coronavirus. He is presently under quarantine there.
JAIPUR: A 69-year-old Italian tourist admitted to a hospital in Jaipur tested positive for coronavirus on Tuesday. Two earlier tests of the Italian man had shown discrepancies with one coming up negative while the other positive. A re-verification test conducted at the Pune-based National Institute of Virology confirmed that the man was indeed infected with coronavirus.
FALLOUT OF NEW CASES
The initial three coronavirus cases in Kerala were comparatively localised compared to what has happened this week. The three new cases have had secondary consequences as authorities rushed to contain any possible spread of the new virus.
Noida schools shut
The Delhi man who tested positive for coronavirus has had authorities in neighbouring Noida on the edge. Before testing positive, the man threw a birthday party for his son at a prominent Delhi five-star. This triggered fears that the son’s schoolmates who attended the party could be at risk.
As a precautionary measure, the private school where the kids study shut down for the remainder of this week. In an email to parents, the schools said the move was purely precautionary and that no student or parents other than the one infected had been found coronavirus positive.
The private institution also said it was taking preventive steps such as fumigation of the campus and school buses. Separately, another Noida-based school said it would remain shut for the next few days so that it could sanitise its campus as a precautionary step.
Agra on alert
Agra in Uttar Pradesh is also on alert after links emerged with both the Delhi coronavirus patient and the Italian tourist who tested positive for Covid-19 in Jaipur.
On Tuesday, the Ministry of Health said in a statement that six people from Agra with “high viral load” have been placed under isolation and their blood samples have been sent to the Pune-based National Institute of Virology for testing.
The statement added that the six people had come in contact with the Delhi coronavirus patient. News agency PTI, quoting sources, reported that the 45-year-old man had come to Agra to visit his family and that this is how he came in contact with the six people.
Separately, it’s been discovered that the coronavirus-infected Italian tourist in Jaipur was travelling with a group of people that visited Agra this weekend. It’s unclear whether the Italian man himself visited the city, but news agency PTI reported that the city’s hotels and tourist sites have been asked to inform authorities as visitors from Italy, Iran or China arrive.