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Coronavirus Scare: Village in Ladakh sealed as symptoms detected in more people

Two persons from the village, including the new patient’s father Mohammad Hadi, were already receiving treatment in the isolation ward of the Sonam Norbu Memorial Hospital (SNMH) in Leh.

SP Sharma | Jammu |

Authorities on Thursday sealed the Chuchot village in the Leh district of Ladakh union territory where one more person has been detected with highly loaded symptoms of coronavirus.

Two persons from the village, including the new patient’s father Mohammad Hadi, were already receiving treatment in the isolation ward of the Sonam Norbu Memorial Hospital (SNMH) in Leh. 

An elderly man had recently died in the village because of some other infection but this created scare in the area.

Officials said that all roads leading to the village have been sealed as authorities fear that more people there might have been infected through the three patients. The two initially hospitalised with symptoms of coronavirus were Shia Muslims and had travelled to Iran for pilgrimage. Son of one of these patients had got infected and had developed symptoms of the virus as a result of which he has been shifted to the SNMH for treatment. 

Six other persons of Hadi’s family have been quarantined and their samples have been rushed to Pune. 

The UT administration was supplying rations and also providing banking facilities to the sealed village. The Cluster University of Ladakh and all colleges and schools in the UT have been shut till 31 March as a precautionary measure. 

The authorities are not leaving anything to chance as about 300 swabs of Indians stranded in Iran have reportedly been found positive with Covid-19 coronavirus. More than 700 pilgrims from the Leh and Kargil districts of Ladakh and 300 students belonging to the Kashmir valley are among the stranded. 

Because of the scare of coronavirus, the tourism industry in the newly formed UT of Ladakh is fearing a steep decline in the arrival of foreign and domestic tourists. News reports of coronavirus having reached the high altitude cold desert of Ladakh has reportedly resulted in the cancellation of many advance bookings by tourists. 

An officer of the tourism department said that they were keeping the fingers crossed this tourist season as the virus has created a scare among the potential visitors. The new tourist season begins in April and the current month would generally witness bookings by tourist groups and individuals from abroad and within the country. Advance bookings during the month of March by tourist groups from South-East Asian and European was a regular feature that was missing this time. 

Private hoteliers and taxi operators in Ladakh were fearing another bad tourist season as hardly any mountain expeditions have also been booked. 

Meanwhile, the University of Jammu that had yesterday ordered the suspension of only teaching till 31 March, on Thursday also shut the administrative wing till 17 March. 

Three patients admitted to the Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Science (SKIMS) in Srinagar with symptoms of coronavirus have tested negative for the viral infection. 

All universities, colleges, schools and coaching centres have been shut in the UT of Jammu and Kashmir as a preventive measure. 

The authorities on Thursday established separate quarantine and isolation facilities for children and women in the Government Medical College (GMC) at Jammu. 

A 63-year-old woman in Jammu, who recently returned from Iran, has been tested positive. She is admitted to the GMC for treatment. She is one of the two patients who were initially reported to have a high viral load on 7 March. The number of patients hospitalised has reached three in Jammu. 

Financial Commissioner Health and Medical Education, Atal Dulloo, has ordered the doctors to maintain utmost confidentiality about patients. 

The Udhampur based Command Hospital of Army’s Northern Command has boosted preparedness to handle coronavirus patients. Specialist doctors have been deployed to manage such patients and isolation wards have been established using crisis expansion beds. The hospital has procured life-saving medical equipment, Hazard suits, N95 masks and protective equipment.