Coronavirus scare Delhi
The threat of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), that originated in China’s Wuhan last month, 
The threat of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), that originated in China’s Wuhan last month, 
spreading to Delhi became serious on Monday with three persons with history of travel to China reporting to Ram Manohar Lohia (RML) Hospital with symptoms of the disease.
While two of them returned from China last week, the third one returned almost a month ago from the neighbouring country, sources said.
“All three of them reported themselves to the hospital. They are suffering from cold, cough, fever and upper respiratory tract infection – symptoms that are common to even seasonal flu. However, due to their travel history, we are not taking any chances,” the source added.
Dr Meenakshi Bhardwaj, medical superintendent of RML hospital, told TOI: “We have put them in an isolation ward as a precautionary measure and their test samples have been sent to the National Institute of Virology, Pune, for confirmation.”
RML has been selected as the nodal centre for isolation and treatment of the novel coronavirus suspects as well as confirmed cases in the country. It has one isolation ward with six beds operational already and, officials said, depending on the requirement the capacity can be expanded to 34 beds at short notice.
On Monday, a team led by Dr Sujeet Singh, who heads the National Centre for Disease Control, visited the hospital to review preparedness for management of the novel coronavirus.
The team inspected the isolation wards, reviewed biohazard disposal protocols and assessed the availability of personal protective equipment such as masks. Sources said AIIMS and Safdarjung, two other major hospitals run by the centre, have also been asked to keep their isolation wards ready.
“The novel coronavirus infection has no cure at present. No vaccine exists either to prevent the disease at present. India, therefore, is on alert to prevent the spread of the infection from China, where it originated, to the country,” officials said.
AIIMS director Dr Randeep Guleria had told TOI they have a cubicle where six to seven patients can be isolated for treatment.
“Depending on the requirement, we can increase the capacity of isolation wards 100% or more,” he said.
Isolation of suspected or confirmed cases of novel coronavirus infection is required to separate such patients from other patients and the general public.
Like seasonal influenza, which is quite common these days, coronavirus infection also spreads from an infected person to others through the air, by coughing and sneezing or through close personal contact.
A review of clinical features of patients with the 2019 novel coronavirus in Wuhan that has been published in The Lancet shows nearly one in every three infected individual has underlying diseases, for example diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease. All 41 patients reviewed by the experts had pneumonia with abnormal findings on chest CT. Complications included acute respiratory distress syndrome, anaemia, acute cardiac injury and secondary infection. Nearly 15% patients succumbed to the disease.
Overall, data from the Center for Disease Control of Prevention in the US shows more than 80 people have succumbed to novel coronavirus in a short span. The disease has spread to at least 15 countries, including the US, Japan, Thailand, Singapore and Nepal among others.
In India, no positive case has been reported so far but the government is on high alert and multiple ministries are meeting regularly to chalk out strategy to prevent the spread of the disease and prepare a roadmap to deal with any crisis situation.
The Wuhan illness, as the novel coronavirus infection is being described because its epicentre is in Chinese city of Wuhan, is of the same family that caused MERS-CoV or Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronaviruses. The latter was first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012 and has since spread to 26 countries.
SARS or Severe Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome, that was first reported in India in 2003, belonged to the same family too. The virus originated from bats, spread to civets and then to humans.
Even in the case of the Wuhan coronavirus, experts say, initially it was assumed the infection was spreading from animals to human. However, there are confirmed reports now about human-to-human transmission of the infection.