One of the three coronavirus-infected patients in Kerala was discharged from the Medical College Hospital in Alappuzha on Thursday after he consistently tested negative for more than a week. The second patient was likely to be discharged in the next couple of days and the third was reported to be stable, said authorities.
State health minister K K Shailaja said the battle was only half won and it was too early to say the worst was over.
“I talked to him over phone. He is in good spirits. He promised to meet me once his home quarantine is over. I salute doctors, para-medical staff and health workers who toiled to realise this,” she said speaking of the patient who was discharged.
Minister said the discharged patient’s results were consistent throughout the week but samples of the first patient– a girl medical student admitted to Thrissur medical college– were not so clear delaying her discharge. The minister said the first patient will also leave the hospital in a couple of days.
The state had pressed the emergency button on Feb 3 after a third coronavirus infected patient was found in Kasaragod in north Kerala. All three were China-returned medical students who travelled together. After declaring a “medical calamity” the state had carried out a massive drive to contain the secondary infection and isolated all contacts and started an awareness campaign at the grassroots level.
“It seems our vigilance and surveillance really paid off. Whether it is surveillance, isolation, tracing contacts or home quarantine, many spent sleepless nights. These are good lessons for us. We will not lower our guard now,” said the minister adding the health department will continue its campaign on hand hygiene, sneeze and cough precautions and cleanliness.
The minister said initially she was really worried after students started returning from China in large numbers. “During Nipah infection, two years ago, it was largely confined to Kozhikkode district only. But now China-returnees were spread in all 14 districts. So, then we thought an emergency is needed to contain the possible secondary infection,” she said.
Having learnt a lesson from the Nipah outbreak two years ago, the state was on battle mode from the word go. At least 2,500 people are still under observation in their homes and 30 others are under observation in hospitals. Experts have lauded the state for restricting the spread of the disease its preparedness and quick response.