Pune lab to help in global coronavirus surveillance

Updated on Feb 08, 2020 03:12 AM IST

ICMR-NIV is part of a global network of specialised referral laboratories with expertise in molecular detection to help countries detect new cases and troubleshoot molecular assays to strengthen local diagnosis of cases.

Medical staff wearing protective facemasks are seen inside an isolation ward opened as a preventative measure following a SARS-like virus outbreak, at the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Institute of Medical Sciences in Ahmedabad on February 4, 2020. - The new coronavirus that emerged in a Chinese market at the end of last year has killed more than 360 people and spread around the world.(AFP)
Medical staff wearing protective facemasks are seen inside an isolation ward opened as a preventative measure following a SARS-like virus outbreak, at the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Institute of Medical Sciences in Ahmedabad on February 4, 2020. - The new coronavirus that emerged in a Chinese market at the end of last year has killed more than 360 people and spread around the world.(AFP)
Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By

Indian Council of Medical Research-National Institute of Virology (ICMR-NIV) in Pune is one of 15 international laboratories identified by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to improve global surveillance and track the spread of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), the global health organisation said in its latest situation report on the outbreak on Friday.

ICMR-NIV is part of a global network of specialised referral laboratories with expertise in molecular detection to help countries detect new cases and troubleshoot molecular assays to strengthen local diagnosis of cases.

Testing samples for novel coronavirus from other countries in the South East Asia region has begun. “The testing of samples from Maldives has already been undertaken and request from Afghanistan for sample testing has been agreed to. We have also agreed to provide technical assistance to Bhutan in managing infection and screening of passengers,” the health minister, Dr Harsh Vardhan, said in the Rajya Sabha.

India has three confirmed cases of novel coronavirus in Kerala, where the three are being quarantined and treated. The three are students of medicine based in the Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak.

All the 654 Indians evacuated from China aboard two special Air India flights, including 10 evacuees with symptoms in Safdarjung hospital in Delhi, tested negative for coronavirus on Thursday.

With no new cases being detected in India, the number of infected remained three even as the number of cases in China jumped by 3,100 on Friday, taking the number of people to 31,161. It has killed 636 people in China, and one each in Hong Kong and the Philippines. Globally, 31,436 cases have been detected in 27 countries.

“The main symptoms of 2019-nCoV are fever, cough, and difficulty in breathing. In 10% to 20% of cases, disease may become severe enough to require ventilatory support. The case fatality is around 2%,” Vardhan said on Friday.

They will be re-tested on day 14 of the quarantine period to confirm they do not have the disease. WHO estimates that the incubation period – the time between getting infected and showing symptoms – is about two to 10 days.

So far, 12 laboratories under the Indian Council of Medical Research have tested 1,435 samples. Two more laboratories in Guwahati and Ahmedabad will start testing for the novel coronavirus.

External affairs minister S Jaishankar on Friday informed the Rajya Sabha that the Indian embassy in Beijing is in touch with around 80 Indian students.”By our estimate, there are about 80 Indian students who are currently still in Wuhan. This includes 10 students who had come to the airport but were running a fever so Chinese authorities, after screening, did not allow them to board the flight,” he said.

India is screening all passengers coming from China, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Thailand at 21 airports, 12 major ports and minor ports. As of Friday, 139,539 passengers arriving on 1,275 flights had been screened and 150 passengers with symptoms like fever, cough and difficulty in breathing have been admitted to isolation facilities.

Jaishankar also stated on Friday in the upper house that India had offered to help evacuate citizens of the neighbouring countries, including Pakistan, but only the Maldives had taken up the offer. Seven people from the Maldives were aboard the second Air India flight.

“We were prepared to bring back not only our people but also those from all our neighbourhood who would have liked to. This was an offer which was made to all our neighbours but only seven nationals of Maldives chose to avail the offer,” Jaishankar said in the Rajya Sabha.

The health ministry has set up a special surveillance web portal for real-time monitoring of 2019-nCoV cases.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Anonna Dutt is a health reporter at Hindustan Times. She reports on Delhi government’s health policies, hospitals in Delhi, and health-related feature stories.

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