2 Indians on ship test positive, coronavirus spectre grows bigger
Till Wednesday, the virus – titled COVID-19 -- is confirmed to have infected at least 45,000 people and claimed the lives of 1,117 globally since it began spreading in central China’s Wuhan in late December.Updated: Feb 13, 2020 00:33 IST
Two Indian crew members of a cruise ship quarantined in Japan are believed to have been infected by coronavirus, embassy officials said in Tokyo on Wednesday, taking the total number of Indian nationals known to be hit by the highly contagious disease across the world to six.
The announcement came on a day of rare hope that the outbreak may be relenting – China recorded its lowest number of daily cases since January – although experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) warned that the easing may only be restricted to China and infections may now begin to spread in other parts of the world.
Till Wednesday, the virus – titled COVID-19 -- is confirmed to have infected at least 45,000 people and claimed the lives of 1,117 globally since it began spreading in central China’s Wuhan in late December. Three of these infections are in Kerala and one Indian living in United Arab Emirates, too, is believed to have contracted the disease.
The infections of Indians on the Diamond Princess take the total number of people who now have the virus on the cruise ship to 174. There were in all 3,711 people on the vessel, including 138 crew and passengers who are Indian nationals.
In a video uploaded earlier this week, some members of the crew asked for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to intervene in order to for them to be evacuated home since the infection was spreading rapidly among passengers. The ship has been isolated at a port in Japan’s Yokohama.
“Due to the suspicion of novel coronavirus (nCoV) infection, the ship has been quarantined by the Japanese authorities till February 19, 2020,” the Indian embassy said in a statement, according to PTI. “Altogether 174 people have been tested positive for nCoV, including two Indian crew members,” the statement added.
The Diamond Princess was placed in quarantine on February 3 after a man who disembarked in Hong Kong was diagnosed with the virus.
In India, 1,725 samples have been tested till February 12, including 654 samples from the quarantine centres set up for the evacuees from Wuhan, China, according to Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). Three students in Kerala were confirmed laboratory positive for the virus and two of them are now free of infection, but all three are still quarantined.
On Wednesday, nineteen Chinese crew members of a vessel from China’s Shanghai was allowed to enter the Kolkata port after their ship was quarantined at Sagar Island in South 24 Parganas for several hours, port officials said. They were cleared by the doctors but will undergo thermal scanning on Thursday, officials added.
In the 24 hours preceding Wednesday, 97 people died – all of them in China -- raising the national toll to 1,113, with more than 44,600 people now infected. But the 2,015 new infections confirms a downward trend following the figure of 2,478 on Tuesday and 3,062 on Monday.
“I think it’s at its peak in mid- to late-February,” said Zhong Nanshan, a renowned scientist at China’s National Health Commission.
But, WHO warned that the epidemic poses a global threat akin to terrorism and one expert coordinating its response said that while the outbreak may be peaking at its epicentre in China, it was likely to spread elsewhere in the world, where it had just begun.
“It has spread to other places where it’s the beginning of the outbreak,” the official, Dale Fisher, head of the Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network coordinated by the WHO, said in an interview in Singapore.
“In Singapore, we are at the beginning of the outbreak.”
Singapore has reported 47 cases and is worried about the spread growing. Its biggest bank, DBS, evacuated 300 staff from its head office on Wednesday after a confirmed coronavirus case in the building.