NEW DELHI: On a day the Union health ministry scrambled to contact trace an American tourist who made a multi-city trip to India before reaching Bhutan where he was diagnosed with coronavirus, India’s top health research agency, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), released its first set of research papers on the infection that has caused near-pandemic globally.
Sources said the 76-year-old US national and his 56-year-old partner had visited Guwahati and Mumbai after first arriving in Kolkata on February 21. He left India eight days later on March 1. “He also reportedly took a cruise ride on the Brahmaputra. We have asked the three state governments to contact trace all persons he could have been in touch with and put them on surveillance immediately,” a senior healthy ministry official said.
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On Friday, the total number of confirmed cases in India reached 31 — up by one. The latest addition to the list is a Delhi-based man who had recently been to Thailand and Malaysia. All 28 active cases are said to be stable. Meanwhile, ICMR officials said the research papers that are being put out will have details such as India’s preparedness to tackle the crisis, detailed patient information and genome sequencing of the virus isolated in India. The first paper titled “Ethics preparedness for infectious disease outbreaks research in India — a case for novel coronavirus 2019”, talked about the capability of the public health system to protect and provide quick response.
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“It’s a very good step that the ICMR has started publishing papers on the outbreak in India,” said Dr Gagandeep Kang, a clinician-scientist and professor in the Department of Gastrointestinal Sciences at the Christian Medical College, Vellore. “It will give out useful information that will help us understand the disease pattern specific to India,” she said.