The Kolkata international airport on Thursday refuted media reports that claimed it had detected two positive novel coronavirus cases in recent weeks. The airport authorities clarified that it had referred three passengers to a city hospital earlier this week as they were “suspect cases”.
“Media reports mentioning about coronavirus positive cases detected at NSCBI airport is totally wrong and baseless,” tweeted the airport’s official account. “Three passengers travelling through Kolkata airport were referred to ID Hospital, Beliaghata by airport health office as suspect cases.” It added that 21,792 passengers had been screened at the airport so far.
Kolkata airport is among the several airports where thermal screening is been conducted since January 17. At present, passengers arriving from Hong Kong, Singapore and Bangkok are being screened as no flights are operating to and from China.
News agency PTI had reported that two Indians had tested positive for the virus after they arrived from Bangkok. It attributed the statement to Kolkata airport director Kaushik Bhattacharjee. However, in an updated report PTI clarified that the two had been placed in isolation as suspected cases, while another woman had showed signs of fever during thermal scanning.
The virus, officially called COVID-19, is believed to have originated in a live seafood market in the city of Wuhan in China’s Hubei province. It has claimed 1,355 lives in China. As of Thursday, nearly 60,000 confirmed cases of the disease were reported across China. Its symptoms include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. It causes respiratory illness, and is similar to the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS, which had also emerged from China in 2002. SARS killed 774 people around the world.
Two airlines – IndiGo and China Eastern Airlines – had temporarily suspended direct flights from Kolkata to China earlier this month. China Eastern Airlines suspended its flights between Kolkata and Kunming in China from February 10 to February 29.
Meanwhile, a passenger on board SpiceJet’s Bangkok-Delhi flight on Thursday was suspected of being infected with coronavirus. The passenger was quarantined after landing at Delhi airport, PTI reported.
Corrections and clarifications: The Kolkata international airport on Thursday evening clarified that it had referred three passengers to a city hospital earlier this week for possible coronavirus infection. It dismissed media reports that claimed two of them were “positive cases”. The headline and the article have been modified.