Government ‘investigating’ COVID-19 patient in Tamil Nadu without foreign travel history

An instance of community transmission would put India in Stage 3 of WHO’s classification

Health Ministry officials said they were still investigating the case of a person in Tamil Nadu, who had tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) and reportedly had no travel history to affected countries, nor contact with anyone who had tested positive for the virus.

“We have heard that he has no history of contact. But we are investigating further,” Raman Gangakhedkar, Senior Scientist, Indian Council for Medical Research, said at a Ministry briefing on Friday.

Tamil Nadu recorded its second positive case of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus disease, COVID-19, on March 18. The person in question is a 20-year-old youth, who had travelled from Delhi to Chennai in a train, tested positive for COVID-19, and is in the isolation ward of Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital (RGGGH).

The government says that India is in Stage 2 of the outbreak, in that all Indians who have tested positive have a history of travel to affected countries or have been in contact with those who have so travelled. An instance of community transmission — someone who tests positive without any such link — would indicate widespread prevalence of the virus and put India in Stage 3 of the World Health Organisation’s classification and necessitate a different plan of action at containment or mitigation.

Health Minister C. Vijayabaskar tweeted on Wednesday that the patient’s condition was stable and he was under observation.

A resident of Uttar Pradesh, he worked in a salon and reached Chennai on March 12. He was staying with a friend in the city and was in search of a job.

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