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New Delhi, Jan
30: India reported the first case of novel coronavirus from Kerala on Thursday,
saying a female student of a university in the Chinese city of Wuhan, the
epicentre of the outbreak, has tested positive for the virus that has killed
170 people in China and is spreading worldwide.

“The patient
tested positive for novel coronavirus and is in isolation in a hospital,”
the Health Ministry said. It added the student is stable and being closely
monitored.

Priya Abraham,
director of ICMR-NIV in Pune, said 49 samples have been tested till now at the
national institute of virology and one sample has tested positive.

 

“The
positive sample belongs to a student from Kerala who was studying in Wuhan. Now
a next test known as ”next-gen sequencing test” will be done on her sample
and the final result will be declared till tomorrow evening,” Abraham
said.

The virus strain
not seen before has spread to at least 17 countries, where authorities have
been scrambling to contain the epidemic and evacuate their citizens from the
worst-hit Hubei Province in China. Chinese authorities have confirmed over
1,700 new cases of the coronavirus.

India, which is
placed by a study at the 23rd place among “high-risk” countries where
the virus can spread, has requested China to operate two flights to bring back
its nationals from Hubei Province.

Authorities have
been screening patients at airports, ports and borders for possible coronavirus
infection and the Health Ministry has urged people to report themselves if they
show symptoms of coronavirus such as cold and respiratory distress on the 24×7
helpline (011-23978046).

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The ministry has
asked people to refrain from travelling to China and the states bordering Nepal
— Uttarakhand, UP, Bihar, West Bengal and Sikkim — have stepped up vigil.

“Per day a
total of 9-10 samples are received at the facility (NIV-Pune) for testing. All
facilities and capacity is available for testing of samples and it takes a day
to test a sample for coronavirus (nCoV),” Abraham said.

Hundreds of
people have been quarantined in hospitals, including over 800 in Kerala, and
are being monitored by doctors, according to ministry officials.

Three men kept
under observation in an isolation ward of Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital in Delhi
for possible exposure to nCoV have tested negative, a Health Ministry official
said.

On Wednesday, the
only two Indian carriers that fly to China — IndiGo and Air India — announced
suspension of most of their flights to the country, joining other airlines
based in Asia, North America and Europe which have restricted operations to the
region.

India has
increased the number of airports from seven to 21 where thermal screening of
passengers is being done for possible exposure to nCoV. These include airports
at Gaya, Guwahati, Visakhapatnam, Varanasi, Goa, Bhubaneswar and Lucknow.

Apart from
NIV-Pune, the health ministry has established four more laboratories to test
samples at Alleppey, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Mumbai.

The health
ministry has advised those who have recently travelled to China (within last 14
days) or had possible contact with an nCoV-infected person, to stay at home, in
isolation for 14 days after returning and sleep in a separate room.

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It has advised
them to cover nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing and avoid close contact
with anyone with cold or flu like symptoms (maintain a distance of at least 1
meter from any individual).

“In case you
develop fever, cough or difficulty in breathing anytime within 28 days of
return from China: Call at Ministry of Health, Govt. of India”s control room
no +91-11-2397 8046 for further information. Wear a mask immediately and report
to nearest medical facility as advised Do not panic,” the health ministry
said.

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