Hyderabad: The novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), which has gripped China and is threatening to spread quickly to other parts of the world including India, has made health officials in Telangana and the other Indian States start focussing on containment, including active surveillance, early detection, isolation, case management, contact tracing and prevention of onward spread of the virus.
The health officials in the State had prepared adequate plans to provide treatment facilities for seasonal influenza (H1N1), which usually peaks in January. Unlike every year, when H1N1 cases peak in January, this year only six to seven cases of swine flu were reported with no fatalities.
However, the sudden onset of nCoV in China and the threat of it being spread to other countries has forced health officials to refocus on their preparedness towards coronavirus. In fact, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MOHFW) has already issued a high alert to the State governments on preparedness.
The complete focus is now on prevention and management of 2019-nCoV not only in Telangana but also in other parts of the country. The MOHFW is also deputing health officials and teams comprising experts to Telangana to enable health officials here to form a fool-proof response to the novel coronavirus.
According to several reports, Union Health Minister Dr K Harsh Vardhan has also written letters to Chief Ministers of various States to get involved personally and review the preparedness of their States for the control and management of nCoV.
According to World Health Organisation (WHO), the Chinese authorities had presented new epidemiological information that revealed an increase in the number of suspected cases, affected provinces, and the proportion of deaths in currently reported cases of nCoV.
The WHO said the coronavirus is evolving and is also spreading to more Asian countries, including Japan, Korea, and Thailand and even one possible case in Singapore, which is very near to India and has large Indian diaspora.
According to the risk assessment made by the WHO, the risk of the coronavirus is very high in China and high in the regional level i.e. other Asian countries. As a result, the Health Ministry appealed to passengers who have a travel history to China since January 1, 2020, to self-report to the nearest health facility if they experience symptoms of fever, cough, respiratory distress etc., and also inform their treating doctor.
Care for suspected nCoV patients
Due to limited knowledge of the disease caused by 2019-nCoV virus and its transmission patterns, the WHO has recommended that all suspected cases must be isolated and monitored in hospitals, which would ensure safety and quality of healthcare and public health security.
If there is no hospital in the vicinity or patients are unable to move because of other medical conditions like heart or kidney ailments, then they should be kept in a well-ventilated single room, limiting the number of caretakers. Other household members should avoid contact and limit the movements of patients.