NEW DELHI: The coronavirus count in India jumped by a whopping 23 on Wednesday, taking the total active cases to 26. The latest was that of a digital paywall’s employee who had recently returned from Italy.
The spurt came from a group of 15 Italian tourists, their Indian bus driver, six in Agra who came in contact with the Delhi man who had tested positive on Monday, and the paywall’s staffer. All of them are under quarantine.
Add to that the two who had tested positive on Monday (Delhi and Telangana), one Italian tourist in Jaipur whose infection was confirmed on Tuesday and three Keralite students who have already recovered, and the total count stands at 29.
The spouse of the infected Italian tourist quarantined in Jaipur, too, tested positive, Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Harsh Vardhan informed.
As he was part of of a group of over 20 Italian tourists, the 15 possibly got their infections from him, Vardhan added. Contact tracing of the infected Delhi man based in Mayur Vihar established he had visited his relatives in Agra shortly after his return from Italy late last month.
On Tuesday, six of those relatives were reported to have “high viral load” and were quarantined in New Delhi’s Safdarjung Hospital. Their swab samples sent to the National Institute of Virology in Pune tested positive for the virus, Vardhan said.
In the wake of the rising global footprint of the virus — 82 countries and territories besides a Japanese cruise ship — the Centre has now decided to start universal screening for international flights.
Earlier, only passengers from China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Singapore, Nepal, Indonesia, Vietnam, Italy, Iran and Malaysia were being screened.
The government has also directed all public hospitals in Delhi to be prepared for more cases, both confirmed as well as suspected.
“We will ensure that all facilities are of the highest order to handle patients that require any isolation,” said Vardhan.
Iran is high on the priority list as hundreds of Indian fishermen, mainly from Kerala and Tamil Nadu, are stuck in the middle of the outbreak there.
Vardhan said that India is trying to set up a COVID-19 screening test in Iran itself so as to evacuate those who have not been infected.
One scientist has already been sent to Iran, while three more scientists and the testing equipment will go to Iran on Wednesday.
Vardhan said that the government was seeking Iran’s support for the implementation of the plan.
No Holi Milan
President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other leaders have announced they will not participate in any Holi Milan in view of the advisory to avoid congregational events
More schools shut
Apart from 2 Noida schools, 3 schools in Delhi and its adjoining areas announced holiday for students and staff. Also, two schools advanced their spring break as a precautionary measure
17 infected abroad
Seventeen Indians have been infected with the coronavirus abroad, including 16 crew of a Japanese cruise ship, Diamond Princess, and one from the UAE, the Centre informed Parliament
Visiting Italian tourists catch the bug in large numbers, raising India’s tally; govt plans to set up a testing lab in Iran to evacuate those Indian fishermen who are uninfected; universal screening of all international passengers from now