HFW dept closely monitoring coronavirus situation as India reports its first case

ITANAGAR, Jan 30: The health & family welfare (HFW) department informed that there has been “no suspected case of the novel coronavirus reported from Arunachal Pradesh so far,” and gave assurance that the department is “closely monitoring the situation while also preparing for early detection and containment.”
The statement came after a person tested positive for the virus in Kerala.
Health Services Director Dr M Lego informed that the department, through the state’s integrated disease surveillance programme (IDSP), is closely monitoring the outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a new strain of the coronavirus, which has been linked to cases of respiratory tract infections in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China, and “continues to expand elsewhere.”
The HFW department’s state and district surveillance units have been activated and will remain vigilant to the developments, the department said, adding that “a mechanism for surveillance and contact tracing has been put in place through the IDSP.”
It said while there is currently no specific treatment or vaccine available for the disease, it can be treated symptomatically.
The coronavirus is zoonotic, meaning that it is transmitted between animals and humans. Once in humans, the virus has shown capacity for transmission from human to human.
The most common signs and symptoms include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath, and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, and even fatal complications.
The department advised maintaining basic hand and respiratory hygiene, including washing hands frequently with soap and water or alcohol-based rub; covering mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing; avoiding unprotected close contact with anyone who has cold or flu-like symptoms; and seeking medical care if one has fever, cough and breathing difficulty.
“When visiting markets, it is advisable to avoid direct unprotected contact with live animals as well as surfaces in contact with animals. Masks may be effective if they are used correctly. However, this measure alone is not sufficient and, if used, should be combined with the above,” the department said.
It advised persons who develop symptoms and have a history of travel to Wuhan, China, or any other country with any symptomatic instances, within the last 15 days to consult a doctor and share the information with their healthcare providers.
India reported its first case of the coronavirus in Kerala on Thursday and the patient has been kept in an isolation ward, the state’s health minister said, even as the government stepped up its efforts to detect and prevent the spread of the virus that has killed at least 170 people and infected more that 7,700 in China.
The government will also evacuate Indians on Friday from China’s Wuhan city, the epicentre of the deadly coronavirus which has spread to at least 17 countries already.
In Thiruvananthapuram, state health minister KK Shylaja told reporters that the condition of the patient was stable.
Hundreds of people have been quarantined in hospitals, including over 800 in Kerala, and are being monitored by doctors, according to ministry officials.
Three men kept under observation in an isolation ward of Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital in Delhi for possible exposure to novel coronavirus have tested negative, a union health ministry official said. (With PTI input)