(Photo by - / YONHAP / AFP)

Lucknow: The vulnerability to a coronavirus outbreak in a densely populated country like India was more than apparent on Tuesday by the surfacing of two fully blown cases – both of which may have exposed scores to the virus in the run up to the initial detection.

In the first case, the child of a patient, who has tested positive, studies in the primary class in a school in Noida (UP); a total of 40 students of the school are being tested for the virus and have been sent into a 28-day quarantine; the school has been shut till March 6 and home examinations postponed.

In fact, such was the scare that yet another private school in Noida also decided to shut down as a preventive measure till March 9. Both schools are being sanitised.

A parent whose son studies in the Shriram Millennium School, Noida, told a wire agency on condition of anonymity: "We came to know about the outbreak on the parents' WhatsApp group early in the morning. There was complete panic in the group.’’

According to screenshots of WhatsApp messages being circulated online, the student's parent had thrown a birthday party on February 28, and several other students of the school had participated in the celebrations.

The parent, a resident of Delhi, had travelled to Italy last week. On return, he organised a birthday party for his son at the posh Hyatt Hotel. His children, other school mates and at least 25 other acquaintances from Noida had attended the bash.

The employees of Hyatt hotel, where the bash was organised, too, has gone into a health overdrive and the staff that was present at the restaurant on February 28 has been asked to self-quarantine for 14 days.

‘‘The hotel has also started conducting daily temperature checks on all colleagues and contractors when they enter and exit the building," a statement said.

Six family members of the parent have also revealed symptoms of the virus and were shifted from Agra to Safdarjung Hospital in Delhi on Tuesday morning. Their samples have been sent to NIV for confirmatory test. Some other relatives have been asked to stay put indoors.

Thus far, over 120 samples from across the State have been sent to the National Institute of Pune for confirmation.

Hotels and tourist sites in Agra have been instructed to inform the office of the Chief Medical Officer as soon as visitors arrive from Italy, Iran or China, an official said on Tuesday.

Over 200 persons are under surveillance in Lucknow. They were exposed to a patient who returned from Saudi Arabia and has been hospitalised.

The World Health Organization has, meanwhile,  increas-ed the risk assessment of the coronavirus to “very high” across the world. The disease has already claimed over 3000 lives and infected more than 80,000 worldwide.

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Free Press Journal