After a student from Kerala, who returned from Wuhan in China, tested positive for the Coronavirus, the state health department has taken on the enormous task of undertaking contact tracing of people who may have been exposed to the virus.
The student returned to India on January 24 and went to the General Hospital in Thrissur and informed health officials that she had come from China. She was told to remain under home quarantine by the hospital authorities. Three days later on January 27, she began showing symptoms following which she informed the hospital about her condition and was shifted to the hospital in an ambulance led by a team of doctors headed by the Thrissur District Medical Officer.
She was kept in an isolation ward at the hospital and her samples were sent to the National Institute of Virology in Pune. Her results returned positive for the virus on the evening of Thursday, January 30.
“Even at the time she was admitted her health condition was perfectly alright,” Dr Amar Fettle, Nodal Officer of Communicable Diseases in the state told TNM.
The student, a native of Thrissur, had landed at the Cochin International Airport through a connection flight via Kolkata. She boarded the flight to Kochi the day after she landed in Kolkata.
“We have collected and transferred the details of the travel route she had taken to the persons concerned, for them to trace the contact list. At the same time it is comforting to know that she developed minor symptoms only on the 27th, after she was already under quarantine. Coronavirus normally transmits to another person only if there are at least minor symptoms. Hence the chances of the virus to have transmitted to another person is remote. But unlike Nipah virus, that would be transmitted only if there are major symptoms, Coronavirus may be transmitted even with minor symptoms,” said Dr Amar.
“Around 23 students came as groups from Wuhan and we are not sure if the four students who are on isolation including the one who is tested positive came as in a single group. Anyway all the students came as groups only,” he stated.
As of now the contact tracing is being done in the case of the one student only as the result was positive.
“Her contact list from Kolkata to Thrissur would be thoroughly found out. Contact tracing of all 806 people who are under surveillance is not possible. Even the contact list of other three students, who had also been in isolation, wont be traced as their test results are negative. But they may be discharged later from hospitals as a preventive step,” he said.
Meanwhile 76 passengers were screened at CIAL on Thursday out of no suspected cases were reported.
A rapid response team headed by Health Minister KK Shailaja convened in Thiruvananthapuram on Thursday to discuss how Coronavirus can be effectively contained.
Officials also decided during the meeting to find out the contact list of the student and put them under quarantine even if they aren’t actively showing symptoms.