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NEW DELHI, FEBRUARY 4: The Kerala Government on Monday declared the deadly Coronavirus epidemic as a “state calamity” after a third case of novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) was reported from the state. Kerala Health Minister KK Shailaja said that the move is to take all necessary steps to ensure that the outbreak is effectively controlled.
Hours after the confirmation of the third Coronavirus case from the state, where over 2,000 people are under watch at houses and hospitals, Shailaja said that on the advice of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan it has been decided to declare the epidemic as a “state calamity”.
Principal Health Secretary Rajan Khobragade said with the declaration of the situation in Kerala as a “calamity”, the entire state machinery will gear up to face the situation and medical officers on leave would have to report for duty.
Earlier, yesterday in the day Kerala Health Minister KK Shailaja, in a special mention in the Kerala Assembly, said a third case has tested positive for Coronavirus and is under isolation at Kanjangad District Hospital in Kasaragod district.
“At present, there are no medicines for this, like it was when state came under Nipah and dengue attack. When we heard about the outbreak in Wuhan, we knew we had to take precautions as we had a good number of our students studying in China. We went forward based on the guidelines suggested by the World Health Organizations and ICMR. We are fully prepared to face the situation,” added Shailaja.
To date, 1,925 people under home observation and another 25 being observed in isolation at the various hospitals.
The Minister said that the challenge is to trace people who have come from China which the state is doing at its level best.
Earlier, 2 positive cases of novel Coronavirus were reported from Kerala, including a woman medico, from the state who studied in Wuhan in China had tested positive for the virus in Thrissur and Alappuzha in the last few days.
A medical bulletin issued on Monday night said so far, samples of 140 people had been sent to the National Institute of Virology for testing, out of which results of 46 came as negative.
While three are positive, the rest of the results are pending.
Authorities have confirmed that the health condition of all symptomatic persons under isolation in hospitals was “stable”, the bulletin said.
Of the 2,239 people under observation, Malappuram district accounted for the maximum of 343, followed by Kozhikode (310), Ernakulam (297) and Kollam (201).
At least 650 Indian nationals have been evacuated so far from China amid the Coronavirus outbreak. The Union Health Ministry informed that since January 18, passengers are being screened for fever at the airport. They are also being given self-declaration forms. Apart from China, passengers coming from Singapore, Hong Kong and Thailand are also being screened, said the Health Ministry.
According to the Health Ministry, at least 58,658 passengers from 445 flights have been screened at 21 airports. The Ministry is also doing community surveillance of passengers in 26 states.
The Union Ministry of Health & Family Welfare issued a fresh travel advisory on Monday urging people to refrain from visiting China as the death toll touched 361, exceeding the 349 mainland fatalities from the 2002-3 SARS outbreak.
The Health Ministry also informed that e-Visa facility for Chinese passport holders has been temporarily suspended and added that e-Visa already issued to Chinese nationals is not valid temporarily.
The Coronavirus has caused alarm because of its similarity to SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), which killed nearly 650 people across mainland China and Hong Kong in 2002-2003. Like SARS, it can be passed among people through the respiratory tract. The symptoms of infection include fever, cough and breathing problems.
The Coronavirus is a large family of viruses that causes illnesses ranging from the common cold to acute respiratory syndromes, but the virus in China is a novel strain and not seen before.
This is the 6th time the WHO has declared a public health emergency of international concern after it did so during the outbreaks of H1N1 in 2009; the Ebola virus in West Africa in 2014 and in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2019; polio in 2014; and the Zika virus in 2016. (Courtesy: TS)