Health officials in Karnataka reported the country’s first COVID-19 death late on March 12 after samples of a 76-year-old man, who was a suspected COVID-19 patient and passed away on March 10 night, tested positive for the disease. The patient from Kalaburgi also had co-morbidities such as asthma, hypertension and diabetes.
He had returned from Saudi Arabia on February 29. According to reports, he fell ill soon after and was admitted to a private hospital and later shifted to the Gulbarga Institute of Medical Sciences (GIMS). His throat swab was sent to check for COVID-19 infection.
Despite efforts by the District Health Official to convince his family that he be shifted to the GIMS isolation ward, he was transferred to a private hospital in Hyderabad. Later, he was discharged from the hospital and was being brought back to Kalaburgi when he died en route.
The Union Health Ministry confirmed the COVID-19 death in a late night statement.
Karnataka Health Commissioner Pankaj Kumar Pandey, who confirmed that the patient’s samples tested positive for COVID-19, said contact tracing, isolation and other measures as per protocol are being carried out. The government of Telangana has also been informed.
Earlier in the day, the Union Health Ministry said the number of patients in the country has risen to 74, with fresh cases reported from Maharashtra, Delhi, Ladakh, Andhra Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, as well as one foreign national. India is still seeing local transmission, the Ministry said.
The rise in numbers came a day after the World Health Organisation declared COVID-19 a global pandemic.
Stating that India is still seeing local transmission, the Health Ministry said: “We have to remember that while there is no need for panic we are dealing with an evolving situation. Currently we have 1,500 contacts of the 74 positive cases currently being monitored,” Joint Secretary, Union Health Ministry Lav Agarwal told reporters at a press conference on March 12.
In empty stadiums
In widening fallout of the pandemic, the Ministry of External Affairs advised the BCCI not to go ahead with the cash-rich IPL. MEA Additional Secretary Dammu Ravi, the nodal officer to coordinate efforts to deal with the coronavirus outbreak, said the government’s advice to the BCCI would be “not do it at this time but if the organisers want to go ahead, it is their decision”.
Following a directive from the Sports Ministry, the remaining two ODIs between India and South Africa in Lucknow and Kolkata, the Indian Super League football tournament final in Goa are among events to be played in empty stadiums.
The Ministry directed all National Sports Federations to “…ensure that no public gathering takes place in any sporting event…if the event cannot be avoided, the same could be done without allowing gathering of people, including spectators”.
In Andhra Pradesh’s first COVID-19 case, a 24-year-old youth, who returned from Italy, has tested “positive”, health officials said in Nellore. With two more cases being confirmed in Kerala, the total number of cases in the State has touched 16. Two more cases were also confirmed in Maharashtra, State Health Minister Rajesh Tope said, taking the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases to 14.
The patient in Nellore, who was admitted to the isolation ward of the Government General Hospital late on March 9, is now stable and all his vitals are normal, said Nellore District Joint Collector V. Vinod Kumar. All the five relatives of the youth have been kept under observation in GGH.
The new cases were reported from Kannur, of a person who had come from Dubai, and Thrissur in a person who returned from Qatar. They are currently in isolation in Pariyaram Medical College hospital and Thrissur General Hospital respectively.
Globally while COVID-19 has over 1,18,000 cases sweeping across 114 countries, the Health Ministry has asked Indians not to panic but co-operate with the government to detect and contain the situation.
“The country should stay focused on a preventive approach. Till now 10.5 lakh people have been screened at 30 designated airports in India,” Mr. Agarwal said. He added that the country currently has 1 lakh testing kits and that the government was in talks with even the private sector to ensure that enough isolation beds are made available should the need arise.
Speaking about the Indian who are abroad and want to return home, the Ministry said an Indian team of doctors will leave for Italy to collect and bring swab samples of Indian students stranded there so that they can be tested before being brought back to the country.
“The government is also undertaking measures to ensure safety and security of its citizens in Iran after it became clear that the country was facing a COVID-19 outbreak. We will be bringing back 130-150 Indians by three flights,” Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Civil Aviation, Rubina Ali said.
On March 7, 108 samples were received from Iran. These samples are being tested at the AIIMS laboratory. Also, six scientists from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) are stationed in Iran and have so far have collected swab samples of over 400 Indians stranded there, a senior Health Ministry official said.
“The first batch of 58 evacuees from Iran has arrived on March 10 with 25 men, 31 women and 2 childrenon board. All evacuees are asymptomatic at present,” the Health Ministry noted.
India has so far evacuated 948 persons from COVID-19 affected countries. Of these, 900 are Indian citizens and 48 from different nationalities, including from Maldives, Myanmar, Bangladesh, China, USA, Madagascar, Sri Lanka, Nepal, South Africa and Peru, teh Health Ministry said.
In Delhi the mother of a 46-year-old man, who had tested positive for COVID-19, has also been detected with the virus, making her the sixth patient here.
“The woman, a 69-year-old has been admitted to RML Hospital. Her son has a history of travel to Japan, Geneva and Italy. They are residents of West Delhi’s Janakpuri. Eight other members of their family were found to be asymptomatic. Cinema halls in Delhi to remain shut till March 31 due to coronavirus threat,” Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said.
Pune has reported nine cases with District Collector Naval Kishore Ram stating that a person who had travel history to the United States tested positive on March 12.
The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) said there is sufficient stock of raw materials for medicines and formulations available to meet requirements of the situation arising due to the coronavirus outbreak.
NPPA Chairman Shubhra Singh met representatives of pharmaceutical industry associations on the issue of availability of critical active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs).
“Chairman NPPA met today representatives of the Pharma Associations on the issue of availability of critical APIs. It is assured that sufficient stock of critical APIs and formulations is available to meet the requirements of the situation arising out of COVID-19,” the drug pricing authority said in a tweet.
The NPPA also said, “Indian Drug Manufacturers’ Association (IDMA) has assured NPPA regarding enough stock of APIs and formulations. No shortages in the near future.”