Meghalaya’s first Covid-19 patient could have got infected from asymptomatic son-in-law
Nearly 2,000 primary and secondary contacts of the patient, a senior doctor with Bethany Hospital, a private hospital in Shillong.Updated: Apr 15, 2020 08:15 IST
Caught by surprise with the detection of the first Covid-19 positive case in the state on Monday, Meghalaya has launched an intensive drive to locate the ‘silent carrier’ who infected the patient.
Nearly 2,000 primary and secondary contacts of the patient, a senior doctor with Bethany Hospital, a private hospital in Shillong, have been traced and samples have been collected from 90 of them for testing, almost half of the primary contacts. Results are expected later.
Initial investigations suggest the doctor, who doesn’t have travel history outside the state, could have got infected from one of his relatives, more specifically, his son-in-law, who is a pilot with Air India and had returned from New York last month. The son-in-law was asymptomatic for Covid-19.
“Preliminary investigation suggest that one of the relatives of the concerned person had a travel history to one of the infected countries and he was back in Shillong before the 14-day quarantine period was over,” Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma said on Tuesday in a video shared on Facebook by his office.
According to a letter written by the Meghalaya health department to the Union health ministry, the patient’s son-in-law travelled from New York to Delhi on March 16. He travelled from Delhi to Imphal on March 17 and returned to Delhi on March 20.
On March 24 he travelled from Delhi to Shillong and was placed under home quarantine from March 24 to April 7 after registering with the state government. The letter adds that a surveillance team of the health department had visited him during the quarantine period.
“Though the person took all precautions, sometimes we see asymptomatic cases as well, who don’t show any signs but could be a carrier. Therefore there is a high chance that it could have been passed on from there. We are looking at all possibilities of how this could have happened,” Sangma said.
Meghalaya government has asked its Assam counterpart to support with the testing of the 2,000 contacts. The Shillong-based North Eastern Indira Gandhi Regional Institute of Health and Medical Sciences (NEIGRIHMS) is the lone Covid-19 testing lab in Meghalaya.
“Our basic strategy would be to identify, isolate and test all contacts for the first few days till we are able to zero down and close the loop of transmission,” Sangma said in Shillong after a cabinet meeting.
Both branches of the private hospital where the doctor worked have been shut and the staff placed under quarantine. The government has asked everyone who may have visited Bethany Hospital on or after March 22 to register themselves by calling 108 or getting in touch with the health department.
Meghalaya’s capital Shillong has been placed under curfew for 48 hours beginning 6:00 am on Tuesday.
Patient commits suicide at Bethany Hospital
Meanwhile, a patient who was admitted to Bethany Hospital, the hospital where Meghalaya’s first Covid-19 patient works, committed suicide by jumping out of his room early on Tuesday—a day after the institution was sealed.
“This case has nothing to do with coronavirus. This individual who committed suicide was a substance user (drug addict) and he was admitted for rehabilitation. He also had some psychiatric problems and in all likelihood, the suicide may be the result of withdrawal symptoms and psychiatric problems,” Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma told journalists in Shillong.