Fresh confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in India have been reported – one in the national capital of Delhi and one in the Telangana state capital Hyderabad.
The COVID-19 outbreak originated in Wuhan, the capital city of China’s Hubei province. At the time of writing, there are 89,798 confirmed cases of COVID-19. The overwhelming majority of these have been reported from China, where there are 80,026 cases. Of the countries whose cases number in excess of 1,000, South Korea has reported 4,335 cases of COVID-19; Italy has reported 1,704 cases; Iran has reported 1,501 cases.
Numerous deaths have been reported due to COVID-19. At the time of writing, there are 3,069 confirmed fatalities due to the virus worldwide. As well as the caseload, China accounts for the overwhelming majority of deaths with 2,912 people having lost their lives in the country. Meanwhile, 45,534 people confirmed to have been infected with COVID-19 have recovered and been discharged. As such, there are 41,195 active COVID-19 cases at the time of writing, of which, 33,820 (translating to 82 percent) are of individuals whose condition is reported to be mild. The remaining eighteen percent of cases, which number at 7,375, are of individuals in serious or critical condition.
The first cases of COVID-19 in India were reported in the state of Kerala. Students who were enrolled at Wuhan University and then repatriated to India in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak tested positive for the virus. They have since recovered.
However, fresh cases of COVID-19 in India have been reported. The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare issued a statement informing that “one positive case of COVID-19 has been detected in New Delhi and one has been detected in Telangana. The person from Delhi has a travel history from Italy, and one from Telangana has a travel history from Dubai. Further details are being ascertained.”
The Ministry added that “both the patients are stable and being closely monitored.”
Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare Dr Harsh Vardhan has said that the Government is “already prepared in advance and are closely monitoring other countries. We are also discussing if we have to revise any of our decisions, amplify it or focus in any particular direction.”
Of steps taken, the Minister said that rigorous screening efforts for cases of COVID-19 in India are in place, including for those from other nations. “Screening of passengers is being conducted at 21 airports, twelve major seaports, and 65 minor seaports,” he said. “As many as 557,431 passengers have been screened so far at airports and 12,431 passengers have been screened on minor and major seaports.” In addition, visas are suspended from China and Iran and the Government is discouraging “non-essential travel to China, Iran, Korea, Singapore, and Italy.” Vardhan has also cautioned that, to curtail the spread of COVID-19 in India, “as the situation develops, the travel restrictions may be further extended to other countries also.”
Fears of a global pandemic have been sparked by the outbreak of COVID-19. Authorities at the global level have appealed for calm. “Using the word pandemic now does not fit the facts, but it may certainly cause fear,” Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), has said in recent weeks. “We must focus on containment, while doing everything we can to prepare for a potential pandemic. There is no one-size-fits-all approach.
“For the moment, we are not witnessing the uncontained global spread of this virus, and we are not witnessing large-scale severe disease or death.”
However, last week, Tedros acknowledged that “the continued increase in the number of cases and the number of affected countries over the last few days are clearly of concern.” As such, he said, “our epidemiologists have been monitoring these developments continuously and we have now increased our assessment of the risk of spread and the risk of impact of COVID-19 to very high at global level.”
Tedros did express that “we still have a chance of containing this virus.” However, this will necessitate “robust action…to detect cases early, isolate and care for patients and trace contacts.”
Dr Mike Ryan, who is executive director of the WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme, echoed Tedros’s sentiments. “We need to keep this virus slowed down,” he asserted, “because health systems around the world – and I mean North and South – are just not ready…the risk of spread has clearly increased but the risk of impact has also increased because of what we see in health systems around the world. Time to act is now
“It’s time to prepare, it’s time to get ready. It’s time to act and people need to take a reality check now and really understand that an all-of-government and an all-of-society approach [is required]. It’s time to act.”