India has recorded its first death – in north Karnataka’s Kalaburagi district – from the novel coronavirus outbreak that has killed thousands across the world, Health Minister B Sriramulu confirmed late Thursday night, adding “necessary contact tracing (of family members and others he came in contact with), isolation and other measures, as per protocol, are being carried out”.
The victim is a 76-year-old man who had returned from Saudi Arabia on February 29. He had been screened on arrival at Hyderabad airport but showed no symptoms at that time, officials added.
On March 5 he went to a private hospital in the district and was admitted the following day with asthma and hypertension. Hospital staff tested him for novel coronavirus, or COVID-19. He had other health problems as well.
Three days later he was shifted to a hospital in Hyderabad. His family checked him out the same day and were taking him home when he died at around 10.30 pm.
The 76 year old man from Kalburgi who passed away & was a suspected #COVID19 patient has been Confirmed for #COVID19. The necessary contact tracing, isolation & other measures as per protocol are being carried out.
— B Sriramulu (@sriramulubjp) March 12, 2020
It is unclear why the hospital allowed a possible coronavirus patient to leave their care.
In addition, a fifth confirmed case was reported from the state today. All of them are in hospital and stable, the government has said.
The newest patient – 26-year-old man who had returned from Greece – has been placed in isolation at a Bengaluru hospital, Karnataka Health Minister B Sriramulu said.
“Primary contacts (of the 26-year old man) have been traced and are asymptomatic. Home quarantine has been advised and follow-up is being done,” he was quoted by news agency PTI.
Meanwhile, several people from the state are among the hundreds of Indians stranded at airports in Italy, one of the worst-hit countries in the world.
The Art of Living foundation, which is based in Karnataka, has closed to visitors till March-end. Church authorities have discussed precautions with attendees during this season of Lent, and crowds at temples have dwindled as people are nervous about large crowds
More than 70 confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection have been confirmed by the Union Health Ministry so far, including 17 foreigners in isolation in Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. More than 11 lakh people have been screened at airports across the country.
As part of its response, the government yesterday shut borders to existing visas – except diplomatic, official, UN/international organisations, employment and project – till April 15.
On Thursday evening the Delhi government said schools, colleges and cinema halls would be shut till March 31. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s administration had shut primary schools earlier this month; secondary schools had been left open in view of exams.
The move mirrors that made by the Kerala government, which is on high alert, on Wednesday; all movie theatres in the state have been closed till the end of the month.
Schools and colleges were similarly shut.
Kerala, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh are among the worst-affected states, with 17, 11 and 10 confirmed cases reported so far, according to the Union Health Ministry.
Kerala is, so far, the only state in which infected patients have been cured; the first three coronavirus patients in the country were from the southern state and have been cured.
The COVID-19 outbreak originated in a food market in China’s Wuhan district in December last year and has, so far, killed more than 4,500 people while infecting 100,000 more.
The World Health Organisation has declared the novel coronavirus a pandemic, meaning it has spread worldwide and affected huge number of people.
In a series of tweets, the WHO said it was “deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity (of the virus), and by the alarming levels of inaction”.
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