Two with travel history to coronavirus-hit countries flee from Jammu hospital, brought back

Two people, who had a travel history to coronavirus-hit Italy and South Korea, fled from a Jammu-based government hospital’s isolation ward, but were brought back, officials said on Thursday.

They were admitted to the hospital on Wednesday afternoon. Samples were taken and sent to the National Institute of Virology (NIV) in Pune, they said.

There was adequate hospital security outside the isolation ward, but relatives of one of the persons “forcefully” took their patient with them after which the other also fled, a senior GMCH official said.

They “fled” late Wednesday night, the official said.

The two persons were brought back and admitted to the GMCH on Thursday, Dr Shafqat Khan, who has been nominated by the government as the nodal officer for coronavirus prevention in Jammu and Kashmir, told PTI.

If the samples taken from them test positive of coronavirus, they will be quarantined, officials said, adding that no positive cases of the virus have been found in the Union Territory.

Symptomatic people have been instructed for home quarantine, they said.

The number of coronavirus cases in India is 29, including 16 Italians, the government has said, adding all international passengers will now be screened at airports, amid growing concern over the spread of the respiratory infection.

People have been advised not to panic as there is no truth in the information being circulated on social media about the death of one person in the Union Territory, the officials said.

Jammu and Kashmir has been put on alert to deal with any threat emerging due to coronavirus, they said.

“People are urged not to give ear to rumours. There is nothing to panic,” Khan said.

Officials said around 200 people who have travel history to coronavirus-affected countries or had contact with people from such countries have been identified.

Twenty-one suspected cases have been tested till date and “no positive case has been reported so far across J-K”, a senior official said.

He said a “100 per cent self-declaration at the airports of Jammu and Srinagar will start from Thursday to trace any such person having travel history to the affected countries.”

“Further, check points for passengers travelling by road have been set up at Lakhanpur and Lower Munda (Zig) to identify individuals with travel history to these countries,” the official said.

Financial Secretary in the Health Department Atul Dulloo reviewed arrangements at the GMCH during a visit to the hospital.

Round-the-clock data control centres have been established at Srinagar and Jammu to receive information on travellers coming from coronavirus-affected countries, Principal Secretary for Planning and Information Rohit Kansal said.

He added that all suspected cases are being managed as per protocols.

The government on Thursday appointed officers to ramp up efforts for prevention of novel coronavirus in Jammu and Kashmir.

Bhupinder Kumar, Mission Director, National Health Mission (NHM), J&K, will be the overall in-charge of the coronavirus control efforts in the Union Territory, according to an order.

Kumar will work under the supervision of the financial commissioner of the health department

The order also states that Shafqat Khan will work under the supervision of the mission director.

Divisional commissioners, deputy commissioners and chief medical officers will be in-charge of their respective areas, as per the order.

They will ensure detection at airports and railway stations, and take steps to create adequate facilities for isolation of suspected cases.