- All the three infected are students who returned from China's Wuhan city
- Minister said declaration is meant to intensify steps to contain spread
- 46 of 140 samples from Kerala were found to be negative, and 3 positive
The Kerala government has declared the lethal disease caused by the Novel Coronavirus as a "state calamity" after three people from the southern state tested positive for the virus, which originated from China's populated Wuhan city.
"The announcement is not meant to scare people. It is to help take proactive steps to intensify the steps to contain the spread of the virus," state Health Minister KK Shailaja said.
The coronavirus has killed over 350 people in China in the last four days. All the three patients in Kerala are students who returned from China's Wuhan city. They were in physical contact with one another, including travelling together, officials said.
Till now, 140 samples from Kerala have been sent for testing, of which 46 are negative and three positive. The rest of the results are awaited.
Some 80 people who at one point were in direct contact with the confirmed cases have been traced and are under the surveillance of the state health department.
The coronavirus outbreak, which originated in China and spread to more than 20 countries across the world in the last few weeks, has been declared a global health emergency by the World Health Organisation.
"Third positive case of Novel Coronavirus patient, has been reported in Kerala. The patient has a travel history from Wuhan in China. The patient has tested positive for Novel Coronavirus and is in isolation in the hospital. The patient is stable and is being closely monitored," the Health Ministry said in a statement today.
"The patient is under treatment at the Kanjangad District Hospital in Kasaragod," Ms Shailaja said this morning. "There is nothing to panic. The health officials led by district medical officials are tracking surveillance efforts. Contract tracing for confirmed cases is underway," KK Shailaja said.
All the three coronavirus cases have been reported from different parts of Kerala. While Kasaragod district is in north Kerala, the first case was reported on January 30 in central Kerala's Thrissur. On Sunday, the central government reported second case of the infectious disease in southern part of the state - Alappuzha.
Over 2,000 people are under surveillance at their homes in Kerala for possible exposure to the virus. Seventy people are being monitored in isolation wards across the state. The first patient confirmed for the infection has shown consistent improvement, state health officials said as they urged people travelling from China to report to the health department.