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COVID-19 cases rise to 44 in India

PTI

New Delhi

A three-year-old child in Kerala who returned from Italy with its parents over the weekend is among India’s five new coronavirus patients, taking the total number of cases in the country to 44, health ministry officials said on Monday.

Delhi, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Jammu reported one case each, officials said.

One more case was reported positive for coronavirus by state officials in Karnataka, but there was no immediate confirmation from the Union health ministry.  

The ministry in a statement also clarified that the patient from Murshidabad, West Bengal, who died on Sunday had tested negative for the infection and “hence so far no death has been reported due to the disease in the country”.

In the wake of rising cases of coronavirus, the Cabinet Secretary held a meeting via video conference with chief secretaries of all states and Union territories on Monday.

He laid emphasis on actions such as surveillance at points of entry, surveillance in the community, laboratory support and hospital preparedness. 

He also called upon states and UTs to scale up logistics, quarantine facilities, capacity building, information management and risk communication, an official statement said.

“One more new case has been reported from Punjab. Thus, as of now there are 44 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the country,” the ministry said in a statement, adding the figure includes the three patients from Kerala who were discharged last month following recovery.

As many as 11,913 cases are under Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme community follow-up. Also 404 Indian contacts of the US citizen tested positive in Bhutan have been identified and put under surveillance in Assam, the ministry said.

As the COVID-19 scare spread – with 110,041 people from more than 90 countries infected and 3,825 people killed – India sent a military transport aircraft with a specialist medical team to Iran on Monday night to bring back Indians stranded in the nation.

About 2,000 Indians are living in Iran, where 7,000 people have tested positive for the contagious disease with flu-like symptoms and 237 people killed. According to the Indian Air Force, its C-17 Globemaster military aircraft left for Iran from the Hindon airbase at 8.30 pm and will return on Tuesday morning.

“The aircraft has a specialist medical team onboard. Indian citizens will be flown to Hindan where medical facilities including quarantine have been set up,” the IAF tweeted.

So far, government of India has evacuated 890 passengers from COVID-19 affected countries.

Out of these, 842 were Indian citizens and 48 belonging to different nationalities including Maldives, Myanmar, Bangladesh, China, US, Madagascar, Sri Lanka, Nepal, South Africa and Peru, the ministry said.

Giving details of the new cases reported in India, officials said the patient in Jammu, the first case in Jammu and Kashmir, is learnt to have a travel history to Iran while the patient from Uttar Pradesh had come in contact with the six people from Agra who had tested positive. 

The Delhi patient has no travel history and had come in contact with a positive patient from the city, Delhi health department officials added.

With Delhi recording its fourth coronavirus case, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan chaired a meeting with Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and senior officials.

A Punjab official said in Chandigarh on Monday that a Hoshiarpur resident, who returned from Italy last week, was tested positive for coronavirus, the first such case in the state. Later, the Centre confirmed the case.

In Karnataka, a software engineer who returned from the US recently has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, becoming the first COVID-19 patient in Karnataka, state Medical Education Minister K Sudhakar said on Monday.

Asserting that the government is prepared to deal with the outbreak, Vardhan stressed on the need for coordinated action between departments and agencies for activities such as contact tracing, community surveillance, hospital management and ensuring adequate personal protection equipment and masks.

A total of 9,41,717 international passengers from 8,827 flights have been screened at airports till now with 54 passengers being referred to IDSP/ hospitals, the ministry said.

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