As the Coronavirus (CoV) continues to spread in China killing 80 people and infected thousands across the world, the first case of the deadly virus is reported from Nepal, which has led to a scare in eastern Uttar Prdesh, particularly Gorakhpur, because of its proximity to Nepal and the heavy traffic flow across the porous border.
Gorakhpur, which is close to Indo-Nepal border, has a sizeable population that commutes daily to Nepal through Sunauli and Badhni borders. Steps have already been initiated for screening of the virus at the airport, but experts believe that health check-up along the open border is more important to check the entry of infection to India.
RN Singh, a doctor-campaigner for ‘Mission Save in India’, said: “The virus is deadly and has already claimed lives in many countries. A case has been reported from Nepal too. We share 1,751 km long open border with Nepal and checking virus only at the airport and not on borders will be an exercise in futility. Health check-posts should be established at entry points on the Indo-Nepal border to check the entry of virus in the country.”
Checking for virus has already started at the airport, but open border between the two countries should also be monitored, he said.
Medical experts in the region feel that there is an urgent need to create awareness about the deadly virus in the area, especially in the rural interiors.
The symptoms of coronavirus are similar to any other upper-respiratory infection, including running nose, coughing, sore throat, and sometimes a fever.
“When the symptoms appear, people believe that it is a flu which is normal thing in this season. It is only when the condition gets beyond repair that people come to the hospitals and by then, the patient is firmly in the grip of coronavirus,” said MM Sahay, a local medical practitioner.
RN Singh further said that health check posts should be set up, along the Uttar Pradesh-Nepal border just like it had been done during the SARS epidemic in 2002.
An awareness campaign was also needed to inform people that patients with cold, cough and fever must immediately be reported to the nearest hospital.
“Around half-a-dozen cases of coronavirus have also been detected in Thailand. Many people from here also go to Thailand and people from the country visit Gorakhpur. Health check-posts are the need of the hour,” he said.
Meanwhile, Chief medical officer (CMO) Srikant Tiwari said that an isolation ward would soon be set up at the district hospital.
“As of now, no case of coronavirus has been reported in Gorakhpur, but the department is ready to deal with the situation. An isolation ward will be constructed at the district hospital soon,” the CMO said.
Two suspected cases of coronavirus have been reported so far in India. Man in his 20s has been admitted to the SMS Hospital in Jaipur for suspected infection, Medical Superintendent Dr DS Meena confirmed on Sunday. The patient pursued a medical degree in China but had come to the Pink City for a postgraduation course. His exact age could not be immediately ascertained. While, another girl in Bihar’s Chapra, who came back from China, is in hospital after showing symptoms similar to those of the rapidly spreading virus, news agency ANI reported on Monday.
With reports appearing of a CoV patient in Nepal the Union health ministry on January 26 had asked the Bengal government as well to set up screening camps at three entry points in the Nepal-Bengal border.
The state health department headed by the chief minister Miss Mamata Banerjee has decided to install camps at Panitanki, Pasupatinagar in Sukiapatti area and Mirik in order to monitor the health condition of people who enter into Bengal from Nepal using these three points along the border.
Meanwhile, eleven people — seven in Kerala, two in Mumbai and one each in Bengaluru and Hyderabad — who are among thousands of passengers who returned from China in the recent days are under observation in hospitals to check for possible exposure to the deadly novel Coronavirus, central and state officials said on Friday.
The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare informed that of these 11 people, two, who were being monitored in a Mumbai hospital, and one each from Bengaluru and Hyderabad have tested negative.
One of the Mumbai patients has tested positive for Rhinovirus, a routine common cold virus, it said.
The government has also issued a travel advisory asking citizens travelling to and from China to follow certain precautionary measures.
Majority of the cases has been reported from Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province, where a seafood market that illegally sold wild animals has been identified as the epicentre of the outbreak.
The Coronavirus is a large family of viruses that causes illnesses ranging from the common cold to acute respiratory syndromes, but the virus in China is a novel strain and not seen before.
The virus has spread rapidly leaving 41 dead in China with the number of confirmed cases leaping to 1300 by the end of Friday. At least 237 people out of the infected are critical.
The Coronavirus has caused alarm because of its similarity to SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), which killed nearly 650 people across mainland China and Hong Kong in 2002-2003.