One more patient tested positive for the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome on Tuesday in Vellore, Tamil Nadu, while Kolkata reported a SARS suspect this morning.
Though details were not available, the positive case in Tamil Nadu is said to be of an Indian who arrived from Malaysia last fortnight and was admitted to the Christian Medical College Hospital in Vellore.
The new SARS suspect in Kolkata, the second in 24 hours, is an Indian national who arrived at the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose international airport early on Tuesday from Cambodia via Bangkok and showed symptoms of the disease.
The 32-year-old passenger Hazari Prasad, a resident of Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh, was isolated and sent to the Infectious Diseases Hospital for diagnosis, sources said.
Meanwhile, reports said that about 30 per cent of the doctors and paramedical staff at the Infectious Diseases Hospital in Kolkata, earmarked to handle SARS cases, did not report to work on Tuesday for fear of catching the infection.
Panic spread in the hospital on Monday evening after reports from the Pune-based National Institute of Virology confirmed Radheshyam Gupta, a resident of Tangra area, as the city's second SARS victim on his return from Bangkok.
An official at the Kolkata branch of the Indian Medical Association said the staff was scared because the hospital lacks basic protection gear. The state government has been lax in providing facilities at the hospital despite the fact that Kolkata is the entry point from most southeast Asian countries, the official said.
Meanwhile, SARS patient Asitava Purakayastha, who has been declared cured by the AMRI-Apollo Hospital in Kolkata and whose family has refused to take him back, was shifted to the Infectious Diseases Hospital, reports said. The patient's family was demanding that he be first issued a certificate by the NIV declaring him free of SARS. In fact, they were unwilling to let him be shifted to the Infectious Diseases Hospital, but were finally convinced by Director of Health Services Prabhakar Chatterjee, who said Purakayastha needs specialized care and the ID hospital had been designated to treat SARS cases.
In Pune, four patients -- Stanley D'Silva, his mother Vimla, sister Julie and maternal uncle Joseph Pawar -- undergoing treatment at the Naidu Hospital of Infectious Diseases were discharged on Tuesday, sources said. The other patient -- a taxi driver who drove the D'Silva family -- is undergoing treatment at the Kasturba Gandhi Hospital in Mumbai.
Reports from Thrissur in Kerala said a 29-year-old woman, who arrived from Singapore recently, was placed under 'observation' at her residence in the Kerala town as a precautionary measure though she did not show any symptoms of SARS.
Five suspected cases have also been reported in Karnataka and the results of their blood tests are awaited, State Health Minister Kagodu Thimappa said.
A Chinese national, Zhang Chung Hong, showed symptoms of SARS after arriving in Mangalore by ship from China on Sunday last, Thimappa said. Zhang has been quarantined at the port.
Three others, including a woman and her 15-year-old son, had returned from Singapore and one from Kuala Lumpur, he said. Health department officials said the woman and her son had an eight-hour stopover in Singapore en route to Mangalore via Mumbai from California.
Thimappa said the blood samples of all the suspected patients have been sent to the National Institute of Virology, Pune, and the results will be known by Wednesday. He said 4,196 international travellers have been screened till date at the crisis management cell at the SARS surveillance unit at Bangalore International Airport.
In Jaipur, a person suspected to be suffering from the disease was admitted to the Sawai Man Singh hospital after showing symptoms of the disease since his return from Bangkok.
The 25-year-old man has been suffering from cough, high fever and other respiratory ailments for the last two weeks, Dr Virendra Singh, a pulmonary expert, said.
The man, whose identity was not disclosed, is a local jeweller who travels to the southeast Asian region frequently. He was spotted at Sanganer airport, 15km from Jaipur, on Tuesday morning, Singh said, adding that it was shocking how the patient had dodged a screening test at Delhi airport on his return last night.
The blood and sputum samples of the patient have been sent to the National Institute of Communicable Diseases, New Delhi for clinical tests, he said.
This is the third suspected SARS case reported to the SMS hospital in a week. While the first patient tested negative for the virus, the second fled from the isolation ward of the hospital. "But he was not found suitable to be admitted to the ward," said Dr Singh, who heads a team of doctors constituted to monitor the cases being referred to the hospital.
In Gurdaspur, Punjab, also, a suspected SARS patient fled from the civil hospital, a senior health official said.
L M Sharma was admitted to the local civil hospital on Monday after complaining of cough, high fever and breathlessness, Dr G S Dhillon, a senior doctor at the hospital, said.
The patient, believed to be from the Kahnuwan area in Gurdaspur district, was admitted to an isolation ward. But he escaped without bothering to get treated, the doctor said.
Health authorities have started a search for the patient.