30/01/2020 1:55 PM IST | Updated 30/01/2020 4:11 PM IST

Kerala Student With Coronavirus At Thrissur Medical College, State Govt On Alert

This is the first confirmed case of coronavirus in India

Passengers wear masks to prevent an outbreak of a new coronavirus in a subway station, in Hong Kong,  Jan. 22, 2020. 

A student, who recently returned to Kerala from China’s Wuhan, has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, the government said in a press release on Thursday.

The student from Wuhan University is the first confirmed case of coronavirus in India and was already in isolation when they were informed of the test result, Kerala’s health minister K.K. Shyalaja said

The patient is stable and is being closely monitored. Shylaja said the student is being treated at the Thrissur general hospital.

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Shylaja was also at the helm of the state’s response to the Nipah virus outbreak in 2018.

At a press conference on Thursday, the minister said Kerala had 20 samples for tests to the National Institute of Virology in Pune. While 10 tests came negative, one was found to be positive. The state is waiting to receive the full test report.

“Of the four students who are in isolation wards in Thrissur, only one student’s result has been received and confirmed positive. Results for the other three are awaited,” the minister said.

Shylaja said contact tracing was vital in containing the virus.

“Travellers returning from China should report to the Health Department. The department has directed home quarantine for 28 days for those returning from China,” she said.

People under home quarantine are asked to not to go out in public or interact closely with people in their homes, she said.

“We have directed all hospitals, including private hospitals, to monitor patients coming with similar symptoms of the virus. The health department is all set to isolate patients and start treatment.”

Stay vigilant, says health minister

The minister cautioned the public against panicking and asked them to stay vigilant for symptoms of the virus.

“The virus can prove to be dangerous for pregnant women and for people with any prior illness,” she said.

Shylaja had earlier convened an emergency meeting of health officials at state capital Thiruvananthapuram.

She will now travel to Thrissur with the state’s principal secretary for a high-level meeting at the medical college. The government will strengthen facilities at the medical college, the minister said.

A rapid response team is in place and the state’s control room is functional, she added.

At least 806 people who returned from China over the past few days have been under observation in Kerala for possible exposure to the novel coronavirus, health officials said. Out of the total of 806 people, 173 had arrived in the state on Wednesday.

In a medical bulletin on Wednesday, the health minister said, “In case people are suffering from cough, shortness of breath or have low-grade fever, they must contact the specially arranged medical centres at each district. There is no need to go to any other hospitals.” 

The health department also provided the phone number, 0471- 255-2056, to access details of the hospitals arranged for treatment with isolation wards.

This week, India readied an Air India airplane to travel to Wuhan but was waiting for a nod from Chinese authorities who were trying to sequence the whole evacuation process.

“Only those nationals who don’t have the virus will be airlifted, they will be brought into a quarantine facility outside Delhi,” an official told Reuters, requesting anonymity.

In China, the virus has killed 170 people so far with the number of those infected at 7,711.

(With agency inputs)