Army reports first Coronavirus case; 276 Indians infected abroad

Updated: 19 March, 2020 09:30 IST | Agencies | New Delhi/Leh

Armed force suspends war games and training activities, strengthens check and prevention mechanism

A batch of Indians evacuated from Iran reach the Indian Army Wellness Facility at Jaisalmer Mil Station for their mandatory quarantine period. Pic/PTI
A batch of Indians evacuated from Iran reach the Indian Army Wellness Facility at Jaisalmer Mil Station for their mandatory quarantine period. Pic/PTI

The Indian Army reported its first case of Coronavirus after a 34-year-old soldier of Ladakh Scout regiment tested positive for the COVID-19, prompting the force to strengthen its check and prevention mechanism and suspend war games and training activities, as the total number of cases rose to 151 in the country on Wednesday. Meanwhile, in a written reply in Lok Sabha, Minister of State for External Affairs, V Muraleedharan said the total number of Indians infected by Coronavirus abroad is 276 — 255 in Iran, 12 in UAE, five in Italy, and one each in Hong Kong, Kuwait, Rwanda and Sri Lanka.

Incidentally, Muraleedharan on Tuesday announced that he has quarantined himself at his residence in the national capital as a precautionary measure after a medical institute he had visited recently in south India reported a COVID-19 case. Though, he had tested negative for the infection. A 34-year-old soldier from the Ladakh Scout regiment tested positive for the infection, Army sources said, adding the soldier, a resident of Chuhot village in Leh, came in contact with his father, who had returned from a pilgrimage in Iran on February 20 and tested positive.

The soldier was on leave from February 25 and rejoined duty on March 2, sources said, adding he was quarantined on March 7 and tested positive on March 16. Even the soldier's brother has tested positive. While 14 fresh cases of Coronavirus were reported since Tuesday, the first case in the armed forces prompted the Army to further strengthen its check and prevention mechanism by taking additional steps, including checking soldiers for flu symptoms on their return from leave, and cancelling non-essential travel and conferences. The Army also announced suspension of wargames, conferences and training activities.The total tally of 151 include 25 foreign nationals and the three persons who died after getting the infection, which has killed 7,500 people globally and infected nearly 2,00,000 others.

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan directed teams to visit quarantine facilities to assess and monitor amenities as the ministry maintained that over 5,700 people, who had come in contact with these positive cases, are under rigorous surveillance. According to the ministry's data, 14 people have been discharged so far, including the three patients from Kerala who were discharged last month.

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Promotion without exams for students

In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Uttar Pradesh government has decided to promote students till Std VII to the next class without examinations. Their assessment will be done on the basis of performance throughout the academic session. The directive to this effect was issued by Additional Chief Secretary, Renuka Kumar on March 17, 2020. The UP government had on Tuesday cancelled all examinations across the state.

No evidence of community spread

There is no evidence of community outbreak of Coronavirus in India as of yet, as more than 500 of the 1,000 samples tested for community transmission of COVID-19 have come out negative while the results for the other half are awaited, according to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). Prof (Dr) Balram Bhargava, secretary, Department of Health Research and Director General, ICMR, said, "It is reassuring that at the moment there is no evidence of community outbreak from this study."

GoAir terminates expat pilots

GoAir said it has terminated contracts of expat pilots amid curtailed operations due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Citing "unprecedented" decline in air travel, the budget carrier, on Tuesday, announced suspending international operations and offering leave without pay programme for its staff on a rotational basis. "In view of the current situation, GoAir has been forced to terminate the contracts of expat pilots," a spokesperson said.

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First Published: 19 March, 2020 09:10 IST

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