Wednesday, Nov 30, 2022
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To Tame The UFOs

Panic and confusion apart, the only positive thing: it's not a superspreader in India Updates

To Tame The UFOs To Tame The UFOs

How far away is India from a full-blown Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) 'epidemic'? Will the killer flu, caused by a tricky mutant of the largely-innocuous common cold-causing coronavirus, begin to kill here too? Or, will we be fortunate enough to evade death from an affliction that has killed more than 370 and infected about 6,000 people in 25 countries? These questions have begun vexing health officials and doctors in India now. More so after the total number of SARS cases in the country, led by a spate of fresh patients from Pune, climbed to 20 within a fortnight of the first case being diagnosed in Goa.

There are no clear answers yet. But a few things are certainly clear. India has been lucky to have not received, till now, what doctors are calling a SARS 'superspreader.' Like a 26-year-old Singaporean who infected more than 100 people or a 48-year-old businessman who passed on the virus to 80 health workers in Hanoi, Vietnam; or a 26-year-old Chinese who gave the disease to 112 doctors, nurses and medical students in a Hong Kong hospital. Even the officer-in-charge of Pune's National Institute of Virology (NIV), Dr A.C Mishra, confesses that most Indian patients are the result of "secondary infections caused by the primary case, wherein one individual has passed it on to the people in close contact with him" (see interview). Dr N. Kumara Rai, director, department of communicable diseases, WHO Southeast Asia Region, says all suspect cases in India have shown "mild clinical symptoms" so far and none show pneumonia in their chest X-rays. Says Rai: "It's possible that these are cases of mild infection."

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