Fighting coronavirus: Death in Delhi, shutdown spreads to other states too

Abantika Ghosh, Astha Saxena
coronavirus india deaths, coronavirus second death, coronavirus state shutdown, coronavirus measures india, indian express news

At Rajiv Chowk Metro station, Friday. Metro officials said they have begun disinfecting trains and stations to check the spread of coronavirus. (Express Photo by Praveen Khanna)

In the second coronavirus death in the country so far, a 68-year-old woman from West Delhi died at the Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital here on Friday. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said the woman had underlying conditions of diabetes and hypertension.

This comes a day after a 76-year-old man, who died on his way from Hyderabad to his hometown Kalaburagi (Karnataka) Tuesday, was confirmed to have tested positive. The man had returned from a month-long pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia and fallen ill with underlying conditions of asthma and hypertension.

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“Death of a 68-year-old female from West Delhi (mother of a confirmed case of COVID-19), is confirmed to be caused due to co-morbidity (diabetes and hypertension). She has also tested positive for COVID-19. She had history of contact with a positive case (her son who had travel history to Switzerland and Italy between 5th to 22rd February, 2020),” the health ministry said in a statement.

“The son had returned to India on 23.02.2020. He initially was asymptomatic, but developed fever and cough after one day and reported to Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital on 7th March, 2020. As per protocol, the family was screened and since he and his mother had fever and cough, both were admitted,” it said. The woman’s condition worsened on March 9, when she developed pneumonia and was shifted to the Intensive Care Unit.

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“She was a known case of diabetes and hypertension. She also tested positive for COVID-19. Her condition worsened and she was on ventilator support,” Dr Nutan Mundeja, director-general of health services, Delhi government, said. The health department has traced 14 contacts of the woman, and 813 contacts of her son.

Coronavirus outbreak: At the Manesar facility, patients are quarantined for at least two weeks before being discharged. (Express Photo: Gajendra Yadav)

With the number of coronavirus cases in the country touching 82, several state governments announced measures to enforce social distancing.

In Karnataka, which reported the first death, the state government announced a lockdown of malls, cinema halls, pubs and night clubs for a week, after which the “situation will be reviewed”. Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa also issued instructions to stop all “exhibitions, summer camps, sports events, marriage events, conferences and other events” for this period.

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In Maharashtra, cinema halls, swimming pools. gyms and auditoriums have been shut in Mumbai, Thane, Navi Mumbai, Nagpur, Pune, Pimpri-Chinchwad, while schools and colleges have been shut in Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad till March 30.

People with symptoms queue outside a Novel Coronavirus facilitation centre at RML hospital in New Delhi. (Express photo/Tashi Tobgyal)

Several other states, including Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh, also announced closure of schools and colleges. Some have closed cinema halls, zoos and public parks too.

Some of these measures have already been put in place in Delhi, Kerala, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand and Manipur.

While new cases were reported from Kerala, Karnataka and Maharashtra in the last 24 hours, 10 patients have been discharged so far.

“Three patients in Kerala had earlier been discharged from hospital, and seven others have now also been discharged. As for the death in Karnataka, he was a 76-year-old man with comorbidities — asthma and hypertension. He had stayed abroad for over a month. The family took the patient to a private hospital against medical advice even as his test results were awaited. That is why we are repeatedly saying that our entire effort is to help us help you. We need cooperation from the community,” said Lav Agarwal, joint secretary, health ministry.

In a letter to chief secretaries and health secretaries of all states and UTs, Union Health Secretary Preeti Sudan said although the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897, has been invoked, “we have to make it very clear that there is no epidemic of COVID 19 in the country.”

The Centre has decided to allow international road traffic only through 19 border checkposts out of 37, and continue the suspension of Indo-Bangladesh cross-border passenger trains and buses till April 15, or earlier, if so decided. However visa-free travel facility for Nepalese and Bhutanese nationals will continue. Nepal has reported one positive case so far.

There are “airport-like screenings” at the land borders too.

Meanwhile, 44 Indians who were stranded in Iran were airlifted to Mumbai on Friday. “A special flight operated by Indian Air Force brought back 58 passengers from Iran on March 10, 2020. India also facilitated Mahan Air flight to bring back people from Iran, and today one flight with 44 passengers has landed in Mumbai. These passengers are being kept in quarantine at the Navy facility in Mumbai. Another Mahan Air flight is expected to land tomorrow in Delhi. As per the need, more such special flights will be operated to bring back Indians who have tested negative,” the Health Ministry said in a statement.

“India is also coordinating treatment of positive people in Iran as per protocol. The government has also sent a team of four doctors from the Ministry of Health to Rome. They have just reached Rome with sufficient material and reagents to collect samples of Indians there for onward testing in India,” it said.

In her letter to the states, Sudan wrote: “As part of our management efforts, there is a need to impose certain social distancing measures such as quarantine of exposed healthy individuals who could be potential patients or isolation of those with symptoms. Such measures require a great degree of persuasive communication. The persons to be quarantined or isolated need to volunteer for such measures in greater interest of the nation. There might however be cases where, in larger community interests we may have to issue instructions to non-cooperative individuals.” Legal provisions like the Epidemic Diseases Act 1897 and the National Disaster Management Act empower states to issue those instructions.