With the first confirmed case of coronavirus reported in Kerala on Thursday, the State’s Health Minister KK Shailaja has requested all those who have recently arrived from destinations in China to voluntarily report to the State Health Department authorities or nearest hospitals for check-ups.

Speaking to newspersons here after the country’s first coronavirus case was detected, she said some of these travellers have volunteered, but there are others who haven’t.

806 people under observation

“We don’t want to raise a scare but it is advised that these travellers report in their interests and go into home quarantine as a step in abundant caution,” the minister said.

The coronavirus patient, a female student of Wuhan University in China, had tested positive in the first test conducted at the National Virology Institute, Pune. She has been confined to an isolation ward at the Thrissur District General Hospital, and is stable, Shailaja said.

The State government has since decided to shift the patient to a medical college for better surveillance, monitoring and treatment facilities. This would be the model to be followed in other districts as well.

A high-level team of officials and medical practitioners led by Shailaja is travelling tonight (Thursday) to take an on-the-spot assessment of the situation.

The female student’s is among the 20 samples sent to Pune, of which 15 have tested negative. The rest are pending confirmation. There are 806 other people, students or travellers, under surveillance in the State, of which as many as 796 are under home quarantine. The other 10 are in isolation wards in various hospitals.

Isolation wards set up in advance

As soon as news about the coronavirus infection broke, Kerala proceeded to set up isolation wards at all the government medical colleges and general hospitals at the district level.

“We do not want miss out on a single case of potential carrier, only to face grim consequences later. So I would personally request those with symptoms to report in, or go into a home quarantine for at least 14 days,” said Shailaja.

Kerala needs to be vigilant since a lot of people from there travel to all parts of the world, and need to observe caution about those who may have been in contact with potential carriers, she added.

Strict vigilance

“This is not intended to create panic. But, at the same time, the need for strict vigilance cannot be overemphasised,” the minister said. Kerala is in a state of readiness to deal with any situation developing on this front, she reiterated.

Particular attention is called for given the fact that Sri Lanka, just half an hour away by air, has already reported coronavirus cases, she added.

Before leaving for Thrissur, the Minister said she will also confer with the Rapid Response Team of the Health Department to discuss ways of building the defence that the State needs.

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