Kerala declares coronavirus a state calamity, Hong Kong reports first death

Our Bureau Thiruvananthapuram | Updated on February 04, 2020

Representative image   -  TAO EDGE

The condition of all three continue to be stable or has improved

Kerala, the first state to report infection of nCoronavirus with three confirmed cases till now, has declared it a state level disaster with 84 persons in hospitals and 2,155 other under home quarantine.

The decision was taken at a meeting held last (Monday) night of the apex committee of the State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA) and chaired by Chief Secretary Tom Jose.


Hong Kong declares first victim

Meanwhile, Hong Kong, a Special Administered Region under the People's Republic of China but outside the mainland, has reported its first death from the virus today (Tuesday). On Saturday last, The Philippines had become the first non-China country to report a death. Mainland China tops in the number of confirmed infections at 20,438 (out of the global total 20,626). At least 2,790 (14 per cent) of all globally reported cases were reported to be in a critical stage. While the death toll worldwide has touched 427, an estimated 653 patients have recovered from the infection, according to available figures. After China, Japan reported the maximum number of cases (20), followed by Thailand (19); Singapore (18); Hong Kong  and South Korea (15 each); Germany and Australia (12 each); the US (11); Taiwan (10 each), with the rest of the countries in single digits. The number of cases outside India and in the rest of Asia is eight each in Malaysia, Macao and Vietnam; five in the UAE (5); and one each in Sri Lanka, Nepal and Cambodia.


No panic, vigil strengthened

Back home, the Kerala minister reiterated that, rather than create panic, the decision to declare coronavirus as a state calamity is intended only to further tighten the state-wide vigil and enforce it, if required, as some aberrations have been reported. The State does not want to miss out on a single case and be faced later with avoidable fait accompli, the minister, who chaired a meeting of the Rapid Response Team of the Directorate of Health, said. Those who have arrived in the state from China and affected origins such as Nepal, Sri Lanka, Hong Kong, the UAE, Vietnam, Japan, and Australia must observe home quarantines for at least 28 days. The minister suspected that there are at least 79 persons who are known to have travelled with the affected. She warned that if those do not voluntarily report to the state health department, it would be forced to initiate action against them or explore the option of 'chasing them down.'

2,155 persons in home quarantines

They should avoid going to public places and attending functions such as weddings or funerals during this period. In exceptional cases, they can seek the help of health officials or volunteers to move out. The state-wide vigil will continue even as the Thrissur, Alappuzha and Kasaragod districts, from where the three confirmed infections have been reported, would be brought under special focus. Call centres working round the clock have been set up by the State and district headquarters for help and guidance. Giving updated figures, Shailaja said that 2,239 persons have arrived in the State from the affected origins, including China, till date. Of these, 2,155 have been put in isolation at homes while 84 are in hospitals. Some of them have developed associated symptoms, and are since admitted into isolation wards. Till date, 140 samples have been sent for tests, of which 49 results are available, with three having been confirmed cases.

Condition of affected stable or improving

The condition of all three continue to be stable or has improved. They are being monitored constantly, and treated as per a special protocol. The minister requested that all those arriving from the affected origins, or have arrived during the last week of January, should report in to the nearest medical facilities, the more so if they have developed symptoms such as flu-like conditions and cough. The extreme public health vigil mounted in the state has helped identify at least 82 persons who have been in contact with the affected people. Of this, as many as 40 are from Thrissur district, and the rest from other districts. Identifying the contact list, or the process of 'backtracking,' is a crucially important and elaborate exercise to cap the spread of the infection. This was successfully carried out during the Nipah virus infection in the state in the last two years to maximum effect.

Published on February 04, 2020

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