Assam reported North East India's first coronavirus case today
Assam has confirmed its first case of novel coronavirus infection – a four-and-a-half year child was found COVID-19 positive at Jorhat Medical College in Jorhat district today. Both the child and the family have been quarantined, as have all medical staff who handled the case
The state government has sent the child's sample for a mandatory second test at a lab run by the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) in Dibrugarh district. The results are expected Sunday afternoon. Contact tracing to determine who else may be at risk has begun, though, as the Assam government is treating the case as "corona positive".
"The girl, her sister and her mother came to Jorhat on March 19. Health workers visited the family on March 20 and brought them to Jorhat Medical College as the girl exhibited symptoms. A sample was taken for testing and today evening, the result came," Roshni Aparanji Korati, the district Deputy Commissioner, told news agency PTI.
This is also the first confirmed coronavirus case in North East India.
Earlier two American tourists had travelled through Assam on their way to Bhutan. However, they developed symptoms only on arrival in that country. The second tourist tested positive on Friday; the first had done son on March 5 and was repatriated to the United States last week.
Contact tracing led to 421 Assam residents. Of these, 160 were released after showing no symptoms, but the Assam government had tested only seven of this group, health department sources added.
The Assam government, which had earlier closed its borders to foreigners and even restricted Indian citizens from other parts of the country, had listed five steps to outline its fight against the virus.
These steps include a staggered roster for government employees (50 per cent will work from home), strict social distancing measures and stamping of all passengers arriving through any transport.
The government has also said it will send $2,000 to all Assamese stranded abroad for over 30 days.
The number of COVID-19 cases in the country crossed 300 today, after two consecutive days of spikes in the number of reported infections; 63 cases were recorded on Friday and over 40 today.
Meanwhile, a woman in Pune and a man in Bengal, neither of whom has any history of foreign travel, tested positive for the virus as well, signalling a worrying trend.
Their cases may indicate India has entered Stage 3 in the COVID-19 outbreak, in which community transmission occurs and exponential growth in infected cases is expected. This coronavirus result from Assam, on the face of it, would appear to be a similar case.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called for a "Janata (public) curfew" from 7 am to 9 pm on Sunday in a bid to stop the chain of transmission. Most public transport – including trains and metros – will not run and all shops excluding pharmacies and grocery stores will be closed.
The COVID-19 pandemic originated in China's Wuhan district in December last year and has infected over 2.3 lakh people so far, with the global death toll nearing 10,000. In India the deaths of at least four people have been linked to the virus.
With input from PTI