The number of coronavirus cases in India has risen to 29. Twenty-three of these cases were confirmed on Wednesday making it the biggest single-day spike since the outbreak was first reported.
Of the 29 cases, 17 have been reported in Jaipur - 16 Italian tourists and their Indian driver. They have been shifted to the quarantine facility of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) in Chhawla in Delhi, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan told reporters.
Three patients from Kerala have already recovered. Another six fresh cases have been confirmed in Agra after a Delhi man, who had contracted the virus, visited them shortly after his Vienna trip, Vardhan said, adding that all of them have now been put under quarantine at Delhi's Safdurjung Hospital.
Later in the day, a Paytm employee in Gurgaon tested positive for novel coronavirus, the company said in a statement. It said the employee had recently returned from a vacation in Italy, one of the worst-hit countries from coronavirus. Paytm has advised all its employees to work from home for the next couple of days while the Gurgaon unit gets sanitised, according to the statement.
"From now on, all flights and passengers will be part of universal screening, not just those to the 12 countries which we had listed earlier," Vardhan said. According to the Health Ministry, about 5,89,000 people were screened at airports, over 15,000 people at minor and major seaports and over 10 lakh at the border with Nepal, till Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the junior minister of external affairs V Muraleedharan informed the Lok Sabha that 17 Indians have been infected with coronavirus abroad. Responding to a question in the House, the minister said while 16 cases were reported from Japan on the cruise ship, one case is from the UAE. The government evacuated a total of 766 persons -- 723 Indian nationals and 43 foreigners -- from China, he added.
In Hyderabad, an MNC at an IT park in Hitec City was abruptly shut and its employees were asked to work from home and self-quarantine amidst fears that one of its staffers is being tested for Covid 19.
This came after employees of the Dutch-based company DSM received an alert from the company that a female employee had recently travelled to Italy and developed symptoms of the coronavirus and hence precautions have to be taken by the others.
The development in Telangana comes even as state health officials revealed on Wednesday that out of the 47 samples tested for the coronavirus at Gandhi Hospital, 45 were found to be negative. The 45 people have been discharged and kept under surveillance. However, two samples have been sent to National Institute of Virology, Pune for further reconfirmation. The results are expected by Thursday.
Currently, Telangana has one confirmed case of the coronavirus. The 24-year-old patient is a software engineer from Hyderabad, working with Intel in Bangalore, who had returned from Dubai. He is in Gandhi Hospital's isolation ward. Intel said one of its employees in Bengaluru had "potentially been exposed" to the virus as he shared a flat with the Hyderabad techie. He is currently under quarantine.
The government in Delhi, where a man tested positive for the coronavirus, has been making efforts to check and screen 88 people who came in contact with him. A task force headed by CM Arvind Kejriwal has been formed to tackle the situation emerging from the coronavirus infection. "There is no need to panic," Kejriwal said at a press conference. A coronavirus testing lab will be set up at the Lady Hardinge Hospital and also at the LNJP Hospital if necessary, Kejriwal said, adding there is no shortage of masks.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP president J P Nadda are among leaders who have said they will not celebrate Holi or hold any Holi Milan function in view of the novel coronavirus outbreak.