The nurse from Kerala working in Saudi Arabia, who was reported to be tested positive for Coronavirus, has been infected by a different strain of the virus and not the novel Coronavirus reported in China, a health ministry affiliate in the Kingdom clarified.
In a tweet on Thursday, the Indian Consulate in Jeddah clarified that the nurse was infected by a strain of Coronavirus called Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV). The one that has caused an outbreak in China is Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV).
According to reports, the affected nurse hails from Ettumannur in Kerala's Kottayam district.
Earlier on Thursday, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs V Muraleedharan said that an Indian nurse working at Al-Hayat hospital in Saudi Arabia was tested positive for coronavirus.
In a tweet, he said, "Update: About 100 Indian nurses mostly from Kerala working at Al-Hayat hospital have been tested and none except one nurse was found infected by Coronavirus. The affected nurse is being treated at Aseer National Hospital and is recovering well."
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan also wrote to External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar to take urgent steps in ensuring expert treatment and protection to those affected from the virus in Saudi.
Muraleedharan had said he spoke to the Indian Consulate in Jeddah after the Indian nurses were quarantined at the hospital due to the coronavirus threat.
Responding to his tweet, the Indian Consulate in Jeddah clarified that the nurse found positive for coronavirus was suffering for MERS-CoV and not 2019-NCoV (Wuhan).
"Dr Tarik Al Azraqi, Chairman, Scientific Regional Infection Control Committee, Aseer Region, has confirmed that the Indian nurse being treated at Aseer National Hospital is suffering from MERS-CoV and not 2019-NCoV (Wuhan). We request everyone to refrain from sharing incorrect information," it said in the tweet.
The Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) was first identified in Saudi Arabia in 2012, while the 2019 Wuhan coronavirus is a novel one, that is, a member of the coronavirus family that has never been encountered before.
It was on December 31, 2019 that several cases of pneumonia were reported in Wuhan City, Hubei Province of China. A week later, on January 7, Chinese authorities confirmed that what they had identified was a new strain of Coronavirus and was named temporarily as 2019-nCoV.
According to WHO, MERS symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath. Pneumonia is common, but not always present.
Gastrointestinal symptoms, including diarrhoea, have also been reported. WHO also states that about 35% of reported patients with MERS-CoV infection have died. The virus is passed through person-to-person contact. But according to reports, it is not easily transferred unless there is close contact, like while providing unprotected care to a patient.
Meanwhile, the coronavirus strain that emerged in China’s Wuhan has infected about 830 people. The death toll in the viral outbreak has reached 25, according to NDTV.
Confirmed cases have been reported from several regions including Xinjiang and Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, as well as in the US, Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Singapore and Vietnam.
(With inputs from PTI)