Coronavirus outbreak: Why it’s crucial to inform govt if one has been to China recently

The student who tested positive had declared to a hospital that she had been to China.
Coronavirus outbreak: Why it’s crucial to inform govt if one has been to China recently
Coronavirus outbreak: Why it’s crucial to inform govt if one has been to China recently

India’s first positive case of Coronavirus has been confirmed from the state of Kerala. While addressing the media in a press conference following the confirmation of the positive case, state health minister KK Shailaja noted that ten individuals who are isolated now had reported to hospitals when they developed cold and other symptoms. When they declared their travel history, it allowed officials to take precautions as deemed necessary.

Following this they were placed in isolation wards in different hospitals across the state. Of four students who were admitted to the Thrissur General Hospital, one tested positive while the results are awaited for the remaining three students. However, the state’s concern now is whether the person who tested positive and others came in contact with others after their return to Kerala. The Health Minister insisted that if people who return from China immediately inform health officials, it becomes easier to monitor, give instructions and arrange quarantines.

Scores of cases of the novel Coronavirus (nCoV) are being reported around the world, and while officials have yet to determine the primary source of the virus, there have been certain measures introduced to preemptively curb the disease.

While screening measures have been introduced at several airports across the country, the efficacy of these measures are not known. Thermal screening is being done at several airports in India for passengers from China. Those who appear to have a fever are required to be examined further and cleared by health officials before being allowed to continue on their trip.

Moreover, people returning from China may arrive at one domestic airport and travel to their further destinations in flights, trains or other modes of transport.

In one instance, a Kerala native who was studying in Wuhan who returned home on Sunday morning stated to TNIE that he and four other students were screened for symptoms such as fever and cough at the Guangzhou airport in China. They were allowed to fly since they didn’t show any symptoms. However, upon reaching Kolkata from China, they were asked to fill out some forms but did not undergo any medical examination. The student boarded a bus from Bengaluru to his hometown in Kerala where he notified authorities of his travel history in view of the Coronavirus outbreak.

Coronavirus spreads through droplets (like cough or nose secretions) and there are cases being reported in China where people are not showing any symptoms despite carrying the virus. The lacunae in the screening process makes it imperative that people declare their travel history to local government health officials.

Kerala has placed more than 800 people in home observation, this includes people who have returned from china and those they have been in contact with. Not all states have made such extensive lists through contact screening.

“People who are coming from China should be ready to be in home quarantine. Everyone coming back from this region should report themselves to the health department. All hospitals have been told that if anyone who has been in China especially comes with any symptoms, they should not be made to go back, instead their samples should be sent immediately,” stated KK Shailaja.

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