BHUBANESWAR/PHULBANI: Odisha on Friday reported the first suspected case of novel coronavirus (nCoV) as a medical student, who recently returned from China, presented himself before the health officials at Kandhamal for tests after developing certain symptoms.
The 21-year-old from Phulbani town studies MBBS in Southwest Medical University in Luzhou City of Sichuan province. He had returned from China on January 11 and his health condition was not screened at the airport as screening of passengers started after January 20.
While his family members are scared as he fell sick twice after returning from China, he has been moved to an isolation ward at the District Headquarters Hospital at Kandhamal even as the health officials are in a spot over management of the case.
“He reported at the hospital after having cough, sneezing and headache twice in the last 20 days. He declared his travel history and requested the Chief District Medical and Public Health Officer (CDM&PHO) for tests,” said his father, a pharmacist.
Interestingly, the first case itself has exposed lack of preparedness on the part of the health administration as the officials have not yet collected his blood and swab samples in the absence of kits for the specialised tests.
Kandhamal CDM&PHO Dr Rajyashree Patnaik said the medical student has been kept in isolation ward. “Since we did not collect blood samples as it requires special kits, the student has been shifted to SCB Medical College and Hospital at Cuttack for tests,” she said.
Asked why is he being referred to SCB MCH when MKCG Medical College and Hospital at Berhampur is closer to Kandhamal, the CDM&PHO said Cuttack hospital is well prepared as Berhampur was declared a nodal centre just a day ago.
“We don’t have facilities to treat such patients. Though nothing is confirmed yet and the symptoms appear to be that of viral infection, we cannot take any chance,” Dr Patnaik said.
As decided, blood samples of suspected cases will be initially sent to Regional Medical Research Centre (RMRC) from where those will be dispatched to the National Institute of Virology, Pune for tests as the kits sought by the State are yet to come from the Centre.
Director (Public Health) Dr Ajit Mohanty said the CDM&PHO has been asked to verify his travel history from passport and shift the patient to SCB MCH as soon as possible. “There is no reason to panic. Since SCB is our apex health institution, we have advised to shift the patient so that he will be under close watch,” he added.
The State Government on Friday intensified surveillance on passengers returning from China directly or indirectly, at the airports at Bhubaneswar and Jharsuguda besides the crew members of ships at Paradip port. While a task force has been constituted for management of cases and prevention of the spread of the infection, thermal screening equipment has been installed at Biju Patnaik International Airport where a mock drill was conducted. Blood and swab samples of four persons, who had returned from China after January 15, have been collected and sent to NIV, Pune for tests. They have been advised to remain in home isolation as they didn’t show any symptom. Paradip port trust authorities have barred landing of crew members of seven ships that arrived from China, Hong Kong and Singapore.
The suspect is a 21-year-old from Phulbani town
Pursuing MBBS in South-west Medical University in Luzhou City of Sichuan province
He was not screened at the airport as he returned on January 11
Screening of passengers at airport started after Jan 20
Moved to an isolation ward at Kandhamal district headquarters hospital