Kerala is indebted to and proud of the 2,421 persons who have abided by the State government’s request to observe home quarantine, following the alert issued against the spread of nCoronavirus. The State government complimented them for 'standing united with it' in the fight against the infection, which originated in China.

Their presence of mind and volunteerism would not go unrewarded, State health minister K.K. Shailaja told newspersons after a meeting of the Rapid Response Team at the Directorate of Health late last (Tuesday) night.

The number of affected stands at three; no new case of infection has been reported, she said.

Global death toll nears 500

Mainland China tops both in the number of confirmed infections at 24,325 (of the 24,551 reported globally) and the death toll at 490 (492). At least 3,223 (13 per cent) of the cases reported globally were said to be in critical condition. According to available figures, an estimated 907 patients have recovered from the infection.

Japan follows China in the number of cases reported (46), followed by Thailand (31); Singapore (30); Hong Kong (19); South Korea (17); Australia (14); Germany, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia and Macao (12 each); the US (11); France and Canada (6); the UAE (5); India (3); the Philippines, the UK, Russia, Italy and Belgium (2 each); and Sweden, Finland, Cambodia, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Spain (1 each).

Japan quarantines cruise ship passengers

Japan has confirmed at least 10 cases of coronavirus on a cruise ship in the port of Yokohama near Tokyo. An 80-year-old Hong Kong man on the ship, who has tested positive for the virus, is reported to have infected a number of other people. Earlier on Tuesday, Japanese authorities quarantined some 3,700 passengers in an attempt to contain the virus from causing an outbreak.

Canada has reported one new case (second one in metro Vancouver), a woman in her 50s, who had hosted relatives from the Wuhan area.

Meanwhile, China's National Health Commission (NHC) said about 80 per cent of those who had died were over the age of 60. An estimated 75 per cent had pre-existing conditions such as cardiovascular diseases and diabetes.


2,421 under surveillance in Kerala

In Kerala, of the 2,421 persons under surveillance, 2,321 are under home quarantine, while 100 are admitted in isolation wards in hospitals. As of yesterday, 190 samples had been sent for tests, of which 118 were sent to the newly accredited National Institute of Virology in Alappuzha in Kerala. According to the minister, 100 of these have tested negative. The condition of all three confirmed cases, also the country's first, at the Government Medical Colleges at Alappuzha and Thrissur, and the Government General Hospital at Kanhangad in Kasaragod district, was stable. The priority now was to monitor and protect the health of those arriving from Wuhan, the epicentre of the virus outbreak in China, prevent its spread, as well as casualties here.

'Contact list' being prepared

The minister reiterated that despite the inconvenience, it was mandatory for all those under observation to stay indoors for at least 28 days. The health department has prepared a list of persons who had come into contact with the three confirmed cases during their travel home and otherwise - it includes 82 from Thrissur; 51 from Alappuzha; and 29 from Kasaragod districts. Of these, 82 have been identified to be 'primary contacts.' Building a contact list, called backtracking, was instrumental in capping the spread of the Nipah virus, a deadlier infection than coronavirus, on two occasions in the recent past in the state. The minister also cautioned the public against other infections such as H1N1 fever, even as the state was dealing with the coronavirus infection. The importance of personal and public hygiene could not be over-emphasised at this point of time, she said.

Counselling services

The government has also set up a single-window facility to exchange important communication and share vital data between the control rooms at the state and district headquarters. Special teams have been constituted to ensure adequate human resources to conduct checking/ screening at seaports, airports and hospitals. The sample management team has sent out 900 viral transport mediums to all districts through the State Public Health Laboratory. Counselling services are available on the toll free number 1043, and 191 counsellors have been deputed to get in touch with households with suspected cases of the infection.

"We shall overcome this, too," the minister said, adding that those arriving from China and other affected regions should not be treated as aliens in their own homeland. Coronavirus does not spread if one keeps a specific distance from the affected, nor does it immediately kill, even if contracted. The infection is manageable if one takes complete rest and adheres to the prescribed protocol, the minister said.