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nCoV is under control, says Kerala’s Health Minister

The Health Department seemed to have heaved a sigh of relief on Wednesday when yet another day passed without anyone testing positive for nCoV in the State. However, public health experts warn that it is early days yet and that the situation involving novel coronavirus is fragile and still evolving.

Health Minister K.K. Shylaja, who briefed media after the daily meeting of the Rapid Response Team, indicated that “things are coming within our control”.

However, epidemiologists say this would be a dangerous assumption at a time when nCoV is spreading fast and wild within and outside China, with even fourth generation cases being reported from various places.

Continuing the strategy of putting anyone with a recent travel history to China under surveillance, the department put 159 more people under quarantine on Wednesday. As many as 2,528 persons are on surveillance in the State, with 93 mildly symptomatic persons being isolated in hospitals, and the rest (2,435) put on home quarantine for 28 days.

223 samples tested

Till date, 223 samples of suspect cases have been tested with the National Institute of Virology and 193 have tested negative for nCoV. The three patients tested positive are doing well in hospitals, the Minister said.

The department is now focussing on providing psycho-social support to those under long and enforced self quarantine at home by deploying psychologists and counsellors.

In various districts, 191 persons from the mental health services have been engaged to provide telephonic counselling.

An evaluation done on those under surveillance revealed that 30% are following the instructions for quarantine while 16% have fared poorly.

Ancillary staff training

Focus is also being given on training the ancillary staff in the department and on IEC (information, education, communication) activities in the community so that the public comply with the directives being issued by health officials.

Directives have been issued to the hotel industry and homestays and resorts to keep vigil on foreign arrivals. Two tourists who came to the State from nCoV-affected nations have been kept under surveillance at Thiruvananthapuram and Ernakulam. However, they would be isolated only if they exhibit any symptoms.

An official statement issued by the State Police Media Centre said the police would offer all assistance to the Health Department to track people returning from China and other nCoV-reported nations and to subject them to medical examination.

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