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COVID-19: India reports 1st death as cases reach 73

Health Ministry confirms death of 76-year-old man in southern Karnataka state after delay of 2 days

Cheena Kapoor   | 12.03.2020
COVID-19: India reports 1st death as cases reach 73 File Photo

NEW DELHI, India

India reported its first death from the coronavirus on Thursday, while the total number of cases in the country rose to 73.

In a statement, the country’s Health Ministry said the victim, a 76-year-old man who had tested positive for COVID-19, died in the southern state of Karnataka on March 10.

It said the man was a resident of Karnataka’s Kalaburagi district and had visited Saudi Arabia between Jan. 29 and Feb. 29.

"While he was asymptomatic on his return, he developed symptoms of fever and cough on March 6. One private doctor visited him at his home and treated him there. On March 9, the symptoms got aggravated and he was shifted to a private hospital in Kalaburagi. In this private hospital he was provisionally diagnosed as ‘mid-zone viral pneumonia’ and ‘suspected COVID-19’,” read the statement.

It said the senior citizen was a patient of hypertension and asthma, adding that he died on Tuesday while being moved from a government hospital to a private hospital.

The ministry asserted that the man was being shifted from the government facility by his family against medical advice.

"All the precautionary measures as per protocol such as contact tracing, screening, and home quarantine of the contacts have been initiated … and [are] being monitored continuously," read the statement.

In a series of tweets earlier on Thursday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged citizens to not panic and take precautions as the number of cases continues to rise steadily.

Measures have been ramped up in the capital New Delhi, where all schools, colleges, and cinemas have been closed until March 31.

Public transport, including buses and trains, are also being sanitized in the capital.

On Wednesday, India announced it would suspend nearly all ordinary travel visas until April 15, with the order coming into effect from 1200 GMT on March 13.

“All existing visas, except diplomatic, official, UN/International Organizations, employment, project visas, stand suspended till 15th April 2020," an official statement said.

Since originating in Wuhan, China, last December, the coronavirus has spread to more than 114 countries.

The global death toll has surpassed 4,900, with more than 134,000 confirmed cases, according to the World Health Organization, which has declared the outbreak a pandemic.

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