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Telangana on alert to tackle coronavirus


With the first case of coronavirus in India occurring in Kerala, health authorities in Telangana have sounded an alert to deal with possible cases of the infection.

Officials said all arrangements were in place at three hospitals in Hyderabad to keep in isolation those having suspected symptoms of coronavirus.

Arrangements have been made for testing the samples for coronavirus at Gandhi Hospital.

Officials said this will eliminate the need to rush samples to Pune’s National Institute of Virology.

Health Minister Etela Rajender appealed to people not to panic. He said the state was following all the guidelines of the Centre for identifying and treatment of any possible case of the infection.

A central team on Wednesday visited various hospitals in Hyderabad to review the preparedness in meeting any eventuality.

A total of 100 beds have been arranged at three major hospitals to keep the suspected cases in isolation.

Forty beds each have been arranged at Gandhi Hospital and Sir Ronald Ross Institute of Tropical and Communicable Diseases, popularly known as Fever Hospital. An isolation ward with 20 beds was set up at Chest Hospital.

Meanwhile, three members of a family have tested negative for coronavirus in Hyderabad.

A couple and their four-year-old daughter, who had returned from China recently, had approached government-run Fever Hospital with suspected symptoms of coronavirus.

They were kept in isolation ward and their swab samples were sent to National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune. They all tested negative, doctors said.

Earlier, two samples sent to NIV also tested negative for coronavirus.

So far eight persons approached the hospital. Barring one, all of them had returned from China.

According to Fever Hospital Superintendent K. Shankar, Telangana has not recorded any case of coronavirus infection so far. “Only some people who suspected to be having symptoms of coronavirus approached the hospital,” he said.

The official said after keeping them under observation at the isolation ward, the samples of only those really having the symptoms were being sent to Pune.

He said those coming from China were being screened on arrival at Rajiv Gandhi International Airport in Hyderabad.

Shankar said there was no need for any panic but people should take precautions like washing their hands frequently, using a cloth while sneezing or coughing and wearing masks while going out in public.

He said those having symptoms like running nose, fever, headache and breathing problems should avoid visiting public places and should approach the hospital for treatment.

He also advised people to drop plans to travel to countries like China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Vietnam, where the disease is endemic.

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It’s official: First coronavirus case in Kerala


The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Thursday said one positive case of Novel Coronavirus from Kerala has come to light.

“One positive case of Novel Coronavirus — a student studying in Wuhan University — has been reported from Kerala,” said a statement released by the Health Ministry.

The patient is kept in isolation in a hospital. “The patient is stable and is being closely monitored,” said the ministry statement.

A Kerala report said Health Minister K.K. Shailaja has called for an emergency meeting of top health officials.

“We were waiting for the test results of six samples and we received the result of five which were negative,” said the official who did not wish to be identified.

According to the figures put out on Wednesday night by Kerala health authorities, around 800 people are under observation with 10 in hospitals and the rest at their homes.

Wuhan city of China witnessed an outbreak of the new strain of coronavirus last month. Since then the death toll in China from the new coronavirus has risen to 170 with 7,711 confirmed cases, as repatriation flights for foreign nationals continued.

Outside China, Hong Kong and Macau, other countries with confirmed cases include Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia, South Korea, Japan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Canada, the United States, United Arab Emirates, Australia (two new cases reported on Thursday), France and Germany.

Finland reported its first case on Wednesday. Several cases in Taiwan were also included in the national count.

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Coronavirus outbreak not yet global health emergency: WHO


Geneva, Jan 24 (IANS) The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced that it was “too early” to declare the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in China a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC), while warning that the number of cases may increase as much about the virus remains unknown.

“I am not declaring a public health emergency of the international concern today. As it was yesterday, the Emergency Committee was divided over whether the outbreak of novel coronavirus represents a PHEIC or not,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told the media here on Thursday night after a closed-door meeting of the Emergency Committee.

“Make no mistake, though, this is an emergency in China. But it has not yet become a global health emergency. It may yet become one,” Tedros said, adding that WHO’s risk assessment is that the outbreak is a very high risk in China, and a high risk regionally and globally.

“I wish to reiterate that the fact I am not declaring a PHEIC today should not be taken as a sign that WHO does not think the situation is serious, or that we are not taking it seriously,” the WHO chief said.

The UN health agency extended its Emergency Committee discussions on whether to declare a PHEIC from Wednesday to Thursday.

The PHEIC is defined by the WHO as an extraordinary event that is determined to constitute a public health risk to other states through the international spread of disease and to potentially require a coordinated international response.

Tedros said that 584 cases were reported to the WHO, including 17 deaths.

A total of 575 of those cases and all of the deaths have been reported in China, with other cases reported in Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Thailand, the US and Vietnam.

Tedros said China has taken measures it believes appropriate to contain the spread of coronavirus in Wuhan, where the virus appears to have originated, and other cities, and WHO hoped that they will be both effective and short in their duration.

For the moment, the WHO does not recommend any broader restrictions on travel or trade, and recommends exit screening at airports as part of a comprehensive set of containment measures.

All countries should have in place measures to detect cases of coronavirus, including at health facilities, Tedros said.

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