New Delhi: The US tourist who tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 infection in Bhutan spent time in Mumbai, Kolkata and Assam, reports say. In Assam, he took a seven-day cruise on the Brahmaputra river before he arrived in Bhutan, where tested positive for the infection at 11 pm on March 5.
Bhutan’s first COVID-19 case in the form a 76-year-old male US tourist spent a few days in Mumbai, Kolkata and Assam where he undertook a 7-day Brahmaputra river cruise before coming to Bhutan and testing positive.
RGoB has relayed the information to the Indian Embassy here.
— Tenzing Lamsang (@TenzingLamsang) March 6, 2020
Mahan Air flight to bring 300 Indians’ swabs from Iran tonight
India has begun talks of bringing back its citizens from Iran, a country particularly affected by the coronavirus.
A Mahan Air ferry flight from Iran is expected to land tonight in Delhi, as reported by Times of India and PTI, and would be bringing around 300 swabs from Indians there who are suspected of having coronavirus.
Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said systems are in place to screen passengers and also follow up cases, amid the virus outbreak.
The Mahan Air flight will carry Iranians back in the return flight, DGCA chief Arun Kumar said.
Health ministry issues biometric attendance guidance
With the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in India reaching 31 and in view of the fact that infected surfaces offer a risk of its transmission, the Union health ministry has issued a government memorandum requesting all government ministries and departments to exempt their employees from marking their attendance through biometric means until March 31, 2020.
To minimise chances of many people coming in contact with the same surface, the Aadhaar-Based Biometric Attendance System will thus not be in use for the time being.
As a precautionary measure, #DoPT has issued guidance regarding Biometric Attendance for Govt employees, till 31st March 2020.#CoronaOutbreak #SwasthaBharat #HealthForAll #COVID19 pic.twitter.com/njTEM3wiuS
— Ministry of Health (@MoHFW_INDIA) March 6, 2020
31st positive case reported in India
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in India has gone up to 31, with a man who travelled to Malaysia and Thailand testing positive in Delhi on Thursday morning. This is the third case in the capital city.
The 30 other positive cases include a 45-year-old man from Delhi’s Mayur Vihar and six of his relatives from Agra whom he had recently visited. Another is a Paytm employee who works in Gurgaon and lives in west Delhi. They are all being treated at the Safdarjung hospital.
Irish man flees Odisha hospital
An Irish man with suspected coronavirus symptoms and kept in the isolation ward of a government hospital in Odisha’s Cuttack city “fled” on Thursday night, according to reports.
The Irish national was screened on Thursday at the Biju Patnaik International airport in Bhubaneswar and had flu-like symptoms. He was then taken to the Capital Hospital in the city, from where he was referred to the isolation ward at the SCB Medical College and Hospital in Cuttack. Another person who was accompanying him was also transferred to Cuttack.
A health department official told Hindustan Times that it is yet unclear how both the persons escaped. “Once someone is suspected to be infected with coronavirus, he/she has to be kept in isolation. It’s compulsory,” the official said, adding that efforts are being made to determine the exact timeline of the escape.
A case has been lodged at the Mangalabag police station.
Holy mosques in Saudi Arabia reopened
Saudi Arabia reopened two of the most holy religious sites in Islam, Al-Haram Mosque in Mecca and Al-Masjid al Nabawy in Medina, after they were closed for sterilisation to halt the spread of the new coronavirus, state TV Al-Ekhbariya reported on Friday.
Saudi Arabia closed the sites to foreign pilgrims and traditional tourists from some 25 countries to stop the spread of the virus. It also said that citizens and residents of Gulf Cooperation Council countries wishing to enter must wait 14 days after returning from outside the region.
Saudi Arabia has reported five cases of the coronavirus.
It was not clear from the Al-Ekhbariya report if pilgrims would be allowed to return to the sites, according to Reuters.
This is not a drill, says WHO
The global march of the new virus triggered a vigorous appeal on Thursday from the WHO for governments to pull out all the stops to slow the epidemic, as it drained the colour from India’s spring festivities, closed Bethlehem’s Nativity Church and blocked Italians from visiting elderly relatives in nursing homes.
As China, after many arduous weeks, appeared to be winning its epic, costly battle against the new virus, the fight was revving up in newly affected areas of the globe, unleashing disruptions that profoundly impacted billions of people.
The UN health agency urged all countries to push this virus back, a call to action reinforced by figures showing about 17 times as many new infections outside China as in it. The virus has infected nearly 98,000 people and killed over 3,300.
“This is not a drill. This is not the time for giving up. This is not a time for excuses. This is a time for pulling out all the stops,” WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in Geneva. “Countries have been planning for scenarios like this for decades. Now is the time to act on those plans.” As Chinese manufacturers gradually reopened their factories, anti-virus barriers went up elsewhere,” he said, according to news agency PTI.
First coronavirus-related death in Britain
Britain has recorded its first death coronavirus-related death, England’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty said on Thursday, as the total number of confirmed cases jumped to 115.
“I am very sorry to report a patient in England who tested positive for COVID-19 has sadly died,” he said, adding the victim was elderly and had “underlying health conditions”. The patient was being treated at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading, west of London, and is believed to have contracted the virus in Britain, he added.
The announcement came as the total number of confirmed cases in Britain rose to 115, after 25 more patients tested positive in England, reported news agency PTI. Of those, 17 recently travelled from “recognised countries or from recognised clusters”, Whitty said in a separate statement earlier on Thursday.
On Thursday, rugby union officials announced the postponement of England’s Six Nations match on March 14 with Italy, where 11 towns are under quarantine.
Noida resident welfare associations cancel Holi events
Public gatherings to celebrate Holi are being cancelled across Noida and Greater Noida amid the coronavirus scare in the region, resident welfare associations (RWAs) said on Thursday. Programmes such as lunches and events like rain dance are usually attended by thousands across Noida, Greater Noida and Greater Noida (West).
K.K. Jain, general secretary of the Federation of Noida RWAs (FONRWA) to which around 110 RWAs are attached, said many events have been cancelled as a measure of precaution.
Rajeev Singh, president of the Noida Federation of Apartment Owners Association (NOFAA), also said major Holi celebration programmes have been cancelled because of fears about coronavirus.
So far, nobody has tested positive for COVID 19 in Noida but samples of at least 55 people were sent for examination as of Wednesday. These samples included three children and three adults who had come in contact with an infected man based in Delhi who has tested positive for the virus.
The Gautam Buddh Nagar administration on Thursday also clarified that no orders were issued for closing down schools and appealed to the people to not panic.
Sixth case detected in Pakistan
Pakistan on Thursday reported a fresh case of coronavirus, taking the total number of COVID-19 infections in the country to six. A 69-year-old man, who returned from Iran on February 25 tested positive in a private hospital in Karachi.
The Pakistan Prime Minister’s Advisor on Health Zafar Mirza said the patient was in a stable condition in a hospital in Karachi.
Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah directed officials to trace and test all those who were in contact with the patient.
So far, no coronavirus related deaths have been reported in Pakistan.
The Sindh and Balochistan provinces have already closed their schools and colleges in view of the situation. Pakistan has also closed its borders with Iran and Afghanistan, and authorities have screened 7,60,000 people for the novel coronavirus.
The five other persons who tested positive for coronavirus in Pakistan are in stable condition.
Union health minister wants public and private sectors to ally
Union health minister Harsh Vardhan on Thursday urged the public and private sectors to work in alliance to tackle the novel coronavirus.
“It is time for public and private sectors to come together and work as an alliance in the spirit of collaboration and co-ordination for collective efforts towards COVID-19 management,” he said after holding a high-level meeting with owners and heads of private hospitals in the Delhi NCR region.
The minister discussed the preparedness in terms of bed capacity of hospitals for infected cases, isolation wards, protocols for sample collection and testing, protocols for outdoor patients among others.
According to an official statement, private hospitals of Delhi-NCR were asked to create a pool of beds. The NITI Aayog would support the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) and private hospitals in doing so, so that the data of availability of beds along with the requisite trained manpower is known, it said.
35 labs have been identified across the country, which will be increased to more than 100 in the coming days.
Vardhan said states continue to be on high alert regarding prevention, community surveillance and effective hospital management.
The hospitals informed the government that they have taken up various outreach activities for enhancing awareness among their hospital staff, the statement stated. They also volunteered to enhance awareness among the communities through their own efforts as well.