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Coronavirus threat: Preparedness and surveillance key

The world, once again, is taking note of the state’s public health system for its effective handling of the novel coronavirus (nCoV) cases. 

Published: 09th February 2020 06:33 AM  |   Last Updated: 09th February 2020 06:33 AM   |  A+A-

After the first case of nCoV in the country was reported from the state, people have become more vigilant in public spaces. A scene from Ernakulam General Hospital premises. (Photo | A Sanesh/EPS)

By Express News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The world, once again, is taking note of the state’s public health system for its effective handling of the novel coronavirus (nCoV) cases. A pandemic affecting people from across the countries, the virus outbreak has resulted in the death of 724 people.

World over, 34,000 people have contracted the virus. With just three conformed cases and no mortality, Kerala has been able to contain the spread of the deadly virus. The health department attributes it to the preparedness and effective surveillance measures put in place. It is learnt that if no new development happens in the virus transmission, the state will be declared nCoV-free by the first week of March.

“That nCoV was a newly identified virus posed a major challenge (in implementing prevention and control strategy). When we started our surveillance, there was no protocol or guideline to follow. Also, the rapid person-to-person spread of the virus increased our concerns,” said an officer of the nCoV Virus Outbreak 
Control and Prevention State Cell.

“Also there was the possibility of doctors being misled by the symptoms and failing to take precautions including isolating the patient. Considering all these, we put the entire health system on high alert and that paid off,” the officer said.

The state declared nCoV as a state-specific-disaster on February 3. But with no new positive cases reported, it was called removed on February 7. “Keralites are there across the globe. But China is a special case due to the large presence of students there. As Wuhan is the epicentre of virus, the prevention and control strategy mainly concentrated on returnees from that city,” said a health department official.

“We identified 72 Wuhan returnees. Of this only three positive cases were identified and 67 turned negative. We are awaiting the results of the other two,” said Dr Amar Fettle, state nodal officer, public health emergency of international concern. At the same time, in a bulletin released by the nCoV Outbreak Control and Prevention State Cell on Friday said that the primary contacts of all Wuhan returnees are under surveillance. 

“They, along with the secondary contacts, are asymptomatic,” the release added. “The absence of new cases does not mean that it’s time ease the surveillance. Instead, it will be further strengthened. The nCoV outbreak and its management have once again reminded us that preparedness is the key to dealing with any public health emergency,” the officer said.

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