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Telangana Health Minister E. Rajender Minister along with Health Department Officials addresses the media on precautionary measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus in the state, at Vaidya Vidhan Parishath in Hyderabad on Monday. Image Credit: ANI

Hyderabad: As all eyes were on the special isolation ward at the Gandhi Hospital in Hyderabad, where the first confirmed case of coronavirus was undergoing treatment. The Telangana government is taking a slew of measures on war footing to reassure the panic stricken people.

On the one hand the administration was busy tracing about 80 people who had been exposed to the affected person before he was confirmed as being infected, and on the other a massive awareness campaign was launched to educate people about symptoms and precautionary measures to be taken.

State Health Minister E. Rajinder told a news conference in Hyderabad that every government hospital would have a special ward for the suspected Coronavirus cases. “A coordination committee of 9 different departments including health and municipal administration has been set up. Every department will have a nodal officer for effective coordination”, he said.

“We have also asked private hospitals to refer any suspected case to government hospitals immediately,” said the minister after a high-level review meeting.

Meanwhile, three more suspected cases of coronavirus were reported to Gandhi Hospital on Tuesday. Doctors said they were admitted to isolation ward and their condition was being examined. “We are sending their blood samples for test”, doctors said.

As part of the measures to deal with coronavirus, a 300-bed isolation ward was being set up at the Military Hospital in Hyderabad. Rajinder said that two more isolation wards will come up at the Chest Hospitals in Hyderabad and Viqarabad. Two were already working in Gandhi Hospital and Fever Hospital in the city.

People in Hyderabad and other parts of Telangana were in a tizzy ever since the government said that a software engineer was found to be suffering from coronavirus. The 24-year-old techie had returned from abroad on February 20 to Bengaluru, and from there to Hyderabad on February 22. As he was suffering from fever and cough he got himself treated at Apollo Hospital for five days. When the problem persisted he was referred to Gandhi Hospital where, after tests on Monday, he was found to be infected with Cornoa Virus.

All the family members and others who had come in touch with him during the last ten days or so were being identified for screening, officials said.

The news of Coronavirus rearing its head in Hyderabad has caused a lot of anxiety among the people. There were murmurs of protests from other patients and attendants at Gandhi Hospital over the presence of isolation ward in the hospital. Even some staff members were concerned about exposure and wanted it to be relocated to some other place.

Senior minister K.Taraka Rama Rao tried to dispel the fears. “There is no need for any fear as the government is alert and taking all the necessary measures. Stringent action will be taken against the rumour mongers,” he said.

Rao pointed out that the mortality rate was very less due to coronavirus compared to other viruses. “It is wrong to say that those affected by the virus will die,” he said.

The government has also opened a special round-the-clock helpline to provide information to the people about xoronavirus and the facilities of treatment available.

The number of doctors and other staff was being increased in all isolation wards set up at various government hospitals in Hyderabad.

What is it to be in an isolation ward?

Prominent social activist and crusader against trafficking of girls Sunitha Krishnan shared her experience as a suspected patient of coronavirus in the isolation ward at Gandhi Hospital over the past two days.

Krishnan, who returned from a visit to Bangkok on Monday morning, was rushed to Gandhi Hospital as she was suffering from fever and cough. On her arrival at Hyderabad international airport she, along with other passengers, was subjected to thermal screening and then taken to Gandhi Hospital, where she was admitted to the isolation ward.

She said there was lack of urgency in response of the staff. While she reported at the hospital 9.40am, no test was done till 1.30pm. “The urgency to ensure immediate response looks less than the desired level,” she tweeted from her hospital bed. “It took quite a while for a doctor to come and assess my condition and take me to the isolation ward,” she said.

Finally the test was done on Monday afternoon and a negative report came in Tuesday. “Many thanks to all my friends and well wishers for your prayers”, she tweeted. But she was all praise for the nursing staff at the ward. “Many people asked me how was my experience at Gandhi hospital? I would say by and large ok. But what I carry back is memory of this young paramedic Syed Abdul Habib who made my stay comfortable with his compassion and empathy”.