Corona footprint expands to TN, Ladakh

NEW DELHI: Covid-19 expanded its geographical footprint in India on Saturday with the health ministry confirming three more positive cases — two from Ladakh in the north, and one down south in Tamil Nadu. Both the union territory and the southern state didn’t have a single confirmed case of coronavirus before this.
In the northeast, Assam went on a sanitising and quarantining drive on realising that the 76-year-old US national, who was confirmed positive for Covid-19 in Bhutan on Friday, had spent about a fortnight in India. His itinerary included a Brahmaputra cruise and a resort in Jorhat. The Union health ministry said over 150 people, who came into contact of the 76-year-old, have been place under surveillance. Cases were also reported in Uttar Pradesh (6 in Agra; 1 each in Noida and Ghaziabad), Delhi (3), Kerala (3) and Telangana (1). In addition to this, 16 Italian nationals who had travelled across Rajasthan in February last week were found to be positive for Covid-19.
The Union health ministry said on Saturday the total number of confirmed cases stands at 34 now. “The two who tested positive in Ladakh had travelled to Iran recently. The Tamil Nadu patient had visited Oman,” the ministry said, adding that all the patients were stable.
The ministry defines confirmed cases as those who tested positive twice for Covid-19, once from a local testing facility and a second time from the National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune. In the suspected category are those who have tested positive once locally but re-confirmation from NIV is awaited.
The two from Ladakh had gone to Iran for pilgrimage, said local authorities. One of them flew from Tehran to Delhi on February 26 and landed in Ladakh two days later. The other patient had landed in Delhi on February 22 and arrived in Ladakh on February 27. Both of them have been kept in isolation at SNM hospital, Leh.
The Tamil Nadu patient is employed in a construction company in Muscat. The 45-year-old landed in India on February 27. Tamil Nadu’s health minister C Vijaya Baskar said the 45-year-old had been isolated at Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital (RGGH) in Chennai and was stable.
Several states, including Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Delhi, and UP, have reported several suspected cases. In Delhi, for example, a woman who had come in contact with the 26-year-old Paytm employee from Janakpuri has tested positive in the preliminary test and her swab sample has been sent to NIV, Pune, for re-confirmation. “In all, we have three confirmed cases and one suspected case as on Saturday. More than 375 persons who may have come in their contact are under surveillance,” said an official from the Delhi health department.
In Jammu and Kashmir, the local administration said, two patients undergoing treatment at a hospital were ‘high viral load cases’. “Test reports of the two suspected patients from Jammu received. Both high viral load cases. High probability of testing positive,” the official Twitter handle of Department of Information and Public Relations, Govt of Jammu & Kashmir stated.
In Agra, local health authorities said, a factory worker who came in contact with the Covid-19 positive businessman, a resident of Delhi’s Mayur VIhar, had tested positive for the coronavirus too. “Re-confirmation is awaited,” officials said.
In Amritsar, authorities said two persons who had visited Italy recently, tested positive for Covid-19 in a preliminary test.
Meanwhile, in some good news, at least 280 persons who were suspected to have come in contact with the group from Italy who travelled across Rajasthan, from February 21 to February 29, have tested negative for the virus, officials said.
Top officials managing Covid-19 cases said the spread of the disease across states is a worrying sign and there was a need to scale up infrastructure for isolating positive cases so further transmission can be limited.
Recently, the Centre directed universal screening of all passengers coming from abroad in view of the fact that Covid-19, which started in China, has soared to over 70 countries globally. Officials said between Friday morning and Saturday, 73,766 passengers from 573 flights have been screened.
Also, the government has started 52 laboratories for testing novel coronavirus and an additional 57 labs have been provided with viral transport media (for transport of specimens) and swabs for sample collection, the ministry said.
In order to spread awareness among the masses, special Covid-19 mobile phone caller tune was launched by all telecom operators with basic infection prevention messages playing when a caller dials a number.
Over 117.2 crore subscribers of BSNL, MTNL Reliance Jio, Airtel and Vodafone-Idea are being targeted through SMSs and call backs, the ministry said.

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