Indian nurse in Saudi Arabia tests positive for coronavirus

Indian nurse in Saudi Arabia tests positive for coronavirus
Indian nurse in Saudi Arabia tests positive for coronavirus

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Aden - Yasmine El Tohamy - An Indian nurse working in Saudi Arabia has tested positive for the SARS-like virus that has infected hundreds in China, the Indian foreign ministry said on Thursday.

Media reports said that the nurse may have contracted the virus while caring for a colleague from the Philippines who had tested positive.

However, neither Riyadh nor Delhi have reported any cases of the virus in their respective countries. 

"About 100 Indian nurses... working at Al-Hayat hospital have been tested and none except one nurse was found infected by Corona virus," said minister of state for foreign affairs, V. Muraleedharan.

"Affected nurse is being treated at Aseer National Hospital and is recovering well," he tweeted. 

Muraleedharan confirmed to AFP that it was the same respiratory virus that has claimed 17 lives since emerging in Wuhan, infecting more than 570 of other people nationwide.

It has since been detected in Japan, Hong Kong, Macau, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore and the United States.

Countries in the Gulf have said they will start screening passengers from China following the outbreak of the new deadly coronavirus, as health authorities around the world work to prevent a global pandemic.

Saudi Arabia's health ministry said it is coordinating with its civil aviation regulator to evaluate passengers arriving on direct or indirect flights from China, it said on Twitter.

Bahrain's health ministry also announced that it had taken pre-emptive measures to avert an outbreak, without disclosing specific policies.

The UAE announced similar screening measures.

" Airports confirms... that all passengers arriving on direct flights from the People's Republic of China must receive thermal screening at the gate upon arrival," a statement said.

Dubai's government said on Thursday that some 989,000 Chinese tourists visited the glitzy emirate last year and that the number was expected to cross the one-million mark in 2020. Some 3.6 million Chinese transited through the airport in 2019.

Turkey said on Wednesday that it had also prepared thermal cameras and other precautions against the spread of the virus, with the embassy in Beijing warning citizens against travelling to China.

Since China reported the emergence of a new coronavirus at the end of December, the SARS-like virus has infected more than 500 and killed 17.

So far, the majority of the victims were elderly individuals with pre-existing health conditions, such as diabetes and liver cirrhosis.

All hailed from central Hubei province, where a local seafood market in the capital city of Wuhan is believed to be the epicentre of the epidemic.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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