Coronavirus which has already infected more than 80,000 people in China apart from claiming more than 2,900 lives in the country of its origin, has now started gaining ground in other parts of the world.
The virus has already infected more than 92,000 people across the world, killing more than 3,000 of those who got infected.
India too has not remained immune from the novel virus. Till now, six Coronavirus-positive cases have come up, out of which three patients have recovered, while the other are active cases.
What comes as a cause of concern is the fact that Coronavirus has registered a fresh spike in India. This week witnessed three new cases doubling the tally of Coronavirus infections in India. Moreover, till now the virus was restricted to Kerala but now all the fresh cases have come up from other parts of the country.
While the Kerala cases were reported last month, the new cases have been reported from Delhi, Hyderabad and Jaipur. What further complicates the entire issue is the recent travel history of these patients and the fact that they have had public interactions.
The 24-year old Bengaluru techie who has tested positive for the novel virus has travelled to Hyderabad on a bus, triggering panic about how other people might have got infected risking further spread of the airborne infection. His fellow travellers as well as the people he interacted with are being tracked down and kept under watch.
The Italian national who has tested positive in Jaipur had also travelled to the Pink city from Delhi in a group of 23 Italian tourists. 19 tourists of this group departed for Agra from Jaipur while the tourist who tested positive has been detained in Jaipur, and therefore Agra has also come at the risk of possible Coronavirus infection. These Italian tourists then travelled to Delhi to fly out to Italy, which has emerged as a new hub of the deadly virus.
Meanwhile, the wife of the Italian tourist who tested positive for Coronavirus is also reported to have tested positive and Rajasthan Health Department has sent her samples to Pune for confirmation.
Air India too has swung into action given that the infected man had travelled in a Vienna-Delhi flight. The national carrier tweeted, “This is for the attention of passengers who flew on AI154 Vienna-Delhi of 25th Feb’ 20. One of the passengers has tested positive for #coronavirus. Please follow the protocol notified by the Ministry of Health regarding the CoronaVirus. Kindly visit.”
— Srijan Pal Singh Kalam 🇮🇳 (@srijanpalsingh) March 3, 2020
#FlyAI : This is for the attention of passengers who flew on AI154 Vienna-Delhi of 25th Feb' 20. One of the passengers has tested positive for #coronavirus. Please follow the protocol notified by the Ministry of Health regarding Corona Virus. Kindly visit https://t.co/YR6yHUi4Or.
— Air India (@airindiain) March 3, 2020
In the National Capital, the man who tested positive for Coronavirus had dined at the five-star hotel, Hyatt Regency on February 28. The hotel authorities have asked the restaurant staff to self-quarantine themselves for a period of 14 days. It is being reported that over 7 people around the man have tested positive with the coronavirus.
It has also been discovered that a few students from a premier Noida school had attended a party hosted by the Coronavirus patient on February 28. The school has therefore been shut for the next few days. Dr. Anurag Bhargava, chief medical officer, Gautam Budh Nagar said, “We are sanitising the Shriram Millennium School as a precautionary measure. A few students from the school attended a birthday party hosted by the Coronavirus patient from Delhi on February 28. We have called for a parents’ meeting to spread awareness on the issue so that there is no panic. We are in touch with the school authorities and parents to ensure that all the required precautions are taken by the affected persons.”
Another premier school in Noida has decided to remain closed in view of the alarming situation till March 9. An official statement from the Shiv Nadar School read, “It has been decided to close Shiv Nadar School until the 9th of March in order to sanitize our spaces and completely remove all scope for the further spread of this virus.”
Till now, the virus has spread only at a very limited, manageable scale but it instantly brings up the question of our preparation in dealing with the virus.
The infected patients have a history of either extensive travel or large scale public interactions. As such even though only three patients have been identified, several states and Union Territories- Delhi, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka and Telangana have come under the scanner, as each of them bears some connection to these patients.
The governments, both Central and State, will have to work a war footing level in order to track the chain of interaction and travel of each of these patients. It will also have to reach out expeditiously to all such suspected cases before the virus spreads further.
Apart from reaching out to suspected cases, many other efforts are needed including fumigation of public places, especially the suspected ones. With high population density, crowded public transport systems and prevalence of unhygienic practices, the government will have to immediately step up its efforts.
Experts across the world have advised to reduce mass gatherings to avoid the spread of COVID-19 Novel Coronavirus. Hence, this year I have decided not to participate in any Holi Milan programme.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) March 4, 2020
The citizenry too will have to step up its efforts. As PM Modi too tweeted about the precautions, there is a need to quickly inculcate healthy, hygienic practices, such as use of sanitisers, washing hands regularly and avoiding too many social gatherings, if Coronavirus is to be kept at bay. The Prime Minister also stated that he has decided not to participate in any Holi programme, discouraging any such mass gatherings where the virus can wreak havoc.
There is no need to panic. We need to work together, take small yet important measures to ensure self-protection. pic.twitter.com/sRRPQlMdtr
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) March 3, 2020
Coronavirus has not spread into an epidemic in India right now. But we have seen with other countries like South Korea, Iran and of course China from where the Virus originally took off- how it can spread like wildfire, taking entire cities by grip. It has brought life to a grinding halt in many parts and countries of the world. If India has to stave off this crisis, the governments at all levels will have to work at a war footing at all levels and the citizenry must co-operate in this effort by the government to somehow avoid the novel virus from spreading further. Moreover, the Indian form of greeting, that is, the Namaste, should find more takers across the world now as shaking hands becomes forbidden.