Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala is in the grip of fear as a nurse working in Saudi hospital has been diagnosed with coronavirus, becoming the first Indian to contract the fast spreading virus.
Twentynine others are also suspected to have contracted the virus and 19 of them have been quarantined. Ten others are still awaiting attention from local authorities, forcing Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to write to the External Affairs Ministry requesting prompt action and attention to be given to the nurses.
Pinarayi on Thursday wrote to Foreign Minister S Jaishankar, requesting him to communicate with Saudi Arabia to ensure proper treatment and protection for the patients.
“Corona outbreak among nurses in Azir Aba Al Hayat hospital in Saudi Arabia should be considered seriously and necessary steps must be taken,” Vijayan said.
Kerala sends the largest number of nurses to the Gulf region and many want to come back fearing the virus. But Kerala has shown reluctance to accept the nurses now as there is no proper infrastructure in the state to tackle the virus, according to a report in Asianet.
The nurse who contracted the coronavirus hails from Ettumanoor in Kottayam. Sources say she possibly got infected when she was taking care of her Filipino colleague, the first person diagnosed with coronavirus in the hospital
She is working at the Al Hayat National Hospital in Abha, Saudi Arabia.
Nineteen others are under observation and their blood test results are awaited, according to Asianet.
However, according to Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan, about 100 Indian nurses, mostly from Kerala have been tested and none except one nurse was found infected by coronavirus. The minister said the Indian nurses had been quarantined due to the Coronavirus threat.
“Affected nurse is being treated at Aseer National Hospital and is recovering well,” he tweeted.
He said in his tweet that he spoke to CGI Jeddah on Indian nurses quarantined at Al-Hayat Hospital, Khamis Mushait, Saudi Arabia due to coronavirus threat.
They are in touch with hospital management and Saudi foreign Ministry. Have asked our Consulate to provide all possible support.
A few nurses have sent an SOS to the state government alleging that the authorities are trying to hide the issue. The issue has been brought to the attention of the Indian Embassy, they added.
Kerala has just come out of the fear of the deadly Nipah virus and now the threat of coronavirus is something that the state wants to avoid. The state has upped the vigil at all the international airports in the state and all passengers from China, Hong Kong, South Korea and Saudi Arabia are being screened for coronavirus.
While no cases have been detected in India, over 12,800 passengers from 60 flights have been screened for the infection so far at seven airports including Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata, according to Union Health Ministry said. In Kerala, all cases have been negative till now.
The coronavirus, officially named “2019-nCoV,” is a family of viruses that can cause illnesses ranging from common cold to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which killed 349 people in mainland China and another 299 in Hong Kong between 2002 and 2003.
Those infected could experience flu-like symptoms, including fever, a cough, shortness of breath, a sore throat or runny nose.