Coronavirus outbreak: Four more in city positive; 6 people flee quarantine
With 18 more people testing positive on Thursday, the number of coronavirus (Covid-19) patients in the country has reached 173.
One more death was reported from Punjab, taking the toll to four. One Indian pilgrim, who was part of the group stranded in Iran, died of the disease, the government confirmed on Thursday. So far, 255 Indian citizens in Iran have tested positive.
As a strategy to effectively contain the spread of the virus, Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the country and asked people to observe a ‘Janta Curfew’ and stay at home on Sunday (March 22) from 7am to 9pm. Additionally on the day, a group of ministers chaired by the union health minister Dr Harsh Vardhan decided to bar all international flights from landing in India for a week, starting March 22.
The government is also roping in private laboratories to scale-up testing for coronavirus.
In Delhi, four more people tested positive for Covid-19, even as six others suspected to have the infection skipped quarantine at Lok Nayak Hospital, located near Delhi Gate.
The six, including three women, had returned from abroad and were later asked to give their samples and get admitted to the hospital, till the tests results came back. Their reports are awaited.
The case of the missing people was made at 1.30am on Thursday.
A senior police official said all six were residents of south Delhi neighborhoods, and had returned to India earlier this week.
“They, along with many others, had all displayed symptoms of coronavirus and were taken from the Indira Gandhi International Airport to Dr RML Hospital to be kept under observation,” he said.
“On Wednesday, they were moved from Dr RML Hospital to Lok Nayak Hospital, but they escaped at night,” the official said.
Another police officer said the escapees had quarrelled with hospital authorities over the facilities, before hurriedly leaving the hospital.
The senior police officer said the contact details of all six were available with authorities, and that they have been contacted. “They told us they were unhappy with the facilities at the hospital, because of which they escaped,” said the officer.
He said the six persons are not related to each other and are currently at their homes. “Any decision to catch and bring them back will be taken only if we receive such a request from health officials,” the police officer said.
According to the government’s health department, “the hospital has already informed the appropriate authorities, and under the Epidemic Act, a first information report can be filed and they can be brought back from their homes.”
Of the four who tested positive in Delhi on Thursday, two were from the Indo-Tibetan Border Police’s quarantine facility at Chhawla, after their evacuation from Italy. They are currently admitted at Safdarjung Hospital. They are residents of West Bengal.
The other two who tested positive were a 22-year-old man from north-west Delhi’s Ashok Vihar who had returned from the United Kingdom, and one who is a 32-year-old man from Gautampuri in south Delhi, who had returned from Mexico.
Both are admitted to Rajiv Gandhi Superspeciliaty hospital in Tahirpur.
Two more centres on Thursday started testing for Covid-19 in Delhi — the Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences and Lady Hardinge Medical College.
So far, all tests in Delhi were done by the laboratories at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) and National Centre for Disease Control.