Pune woman with no foreign travel history tests positive for Covid-19

Hindustan Times, New Delhi | ByHT Correspondent
Mar 21, 2020 03:41 PM IST

Coronavirus in India: The woman, who is in her early forties, is critical and on ventilator in an ICU at Bharati Hospital in Pune, said a city official.

New Delhi/Pune

Coronavirus: Passengers wearing protective masks sit at an airport terminal following an outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).(REUTERS)
Coronavirus: Passengers wearing protective masks sit at an airport terminal following an outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).(REUTERS)

A woman in Pune who has no travel history to any foreign country and no known contact with a Covid-19 patient has tested positive for the disease, the National Institute of Virology (NIV) said on Saturday, sparking fears that this could be India’s first case of community transmission of the highly contagious Sars-Cov-2 virus that has killed four in the country and infected 258 people.

A health department official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the 41-year-old woman is a resident of the Sinhgad road area, where Pune’s first two cases were reported. Pune accounts for 23 of the 50 cases in Maharashtra. The official said it could be a case of local transmission.

There are four main stages of the deadly outbreak. Stage I is usually when cases are imported, without any local origin. Stage II is local transmission, which means a section of people testing positive have come in contact with a patient having a travel history. Stage III is community transmission, which takes place when the source of an individual’s infection can’t be traced and isolated. Stage IV is an epidemic, when there several clusters of the infection.

The case in Pune surfaced close on the heels of reports of a 20-year-old Delhi resident, who too did not have any history of travel abroad, tested positive for the coronavirus in Tamil Nadu. The government is yet to establish the source of infection, sending alarm bells ringing.

The Union health ministry maintains that there is no evidence of community transmission of the infection so far. According to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), India is still at stage II of the disease.

The Pune woman is critical and on ventilator in an intensive care unit (ICU) at Bharati Hospital. She does not have travel history to a foreign country but visited Vashi in Navi Mumbai for a wedding on March 3, district collector Naval Kishore Ram said.

“We are investigating the case...She must have come in contact with someone who had foreign travel history,” Ram said, adding that the case has been referred to higher authorities.

The woman tested positive for the infection after her throat swabs were sent to NIV to check for possibility of the swine flu (H1N1), he said.

The patient, brought to Bharati Hospital on March 16, is in a serious condition and was put on ventilator on Friday afternoon, Sanjay Lalwani, medical director of the health facility, said.

She is undergoing treatment in accordance with the recommendations of ICMR and the state government, Lalwani said.

Archana Patil, state health director, said ICMR recommendations suggest giving HIV (human immunodeficiency virus that causes AIDS) drugs to critical Covid-19 patients.

“As the patient is too serious, she is not being moved to the government quarantine facility at Naidu hospital...we have demanded safety gears for our staff,” Lalwani added.

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