Community transmission fears in Kolkata as 66-year-old man with no foreign travel history tests positive for coronavirus.
With another person testing positive for the coronavirus on Thursday (26 March), Kolkata’s Covid-19 positive patient count has gone up to 10.
What’s more, the latest patient — a 66-year-old former employee of Coal India Limited — has no history of foreign travel or contact with any foreign-returnee.
This has triggered alarm in the state administration and the medical fraternity as this could be a case of community transmission of the virus.
The man went to Egra in Midnapore district in south-west Bengal on 12 March along with his family to attend the wedding of his nephew there. No one in his family had returned from abroad over the past three months and none among the 300-odd guests, who attended the wedding had any history of foreign travel.
The man developed a slight fever on 14 March and his blood samples sent for diagnosis to a local pathological laboratory tested positive for typhoid. He was being treated for typhoid, but then developed sore throat and respiratory distress.
His son, an engineer, drove him to the Peerless Hospital in Kolkata on 23 March. He was admitted to the isolation ward and treated as a suspected Covid-19 patient right from then.
His swab samples sent to Institute of Post-Graduate Medical Education and Research (IPGMER) and then to Indian Council of Medical Research-National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases (ICMR-NICED) turned out to be Covid-19 positive. Doctors at the hospital say his condition is critical and he is on ventilation support.
The man’s wife, son, daughter-in-law and four-year-old granddaughter have been sent to a quarantine facility and their swab samples sent for tests. His relatives at Egra and all the guests who attended the wedding there have been asked to stay in home isolation.
The patient has been administered antiretroviral drugs (used for treating HIV positive patients), the first time such a line of treatment has been adopted on a Covid-19 positive patient in Kolkata.
Doctors at the Sawai Man Singh Hospital in Jaipur were the first to start using a combination of Lopinavir and Ritonavir (both aggressive antiretroviral drugs) on Covid-19 positive patients, including an Italian.
On Thursday (26 March), a government hospital in Kochi declared a British national free of the virus after treating him with antiretroviral drugs.
Doctors say in HIV positive patients, this combination drug inhibits the growth of the virus and brings down its virulence.
This is the second suspected case of community transmission. A 55-year-old man, Kolkata’s fourth coronavirus-positive case, who passed away earlier this week, also had no foreign travel history.
While health officials say he met his son, a resident of the US, and his prospective Italian daughter-in-law for a brief period earlier this month, his family denies it. This man could have been the first case of community transmission of the virus.
However, apart from the man admitted to Peerless Hospital now, no further case of community transmission has surfaced so far.