India's Covid-19 patient zero reinfected

Student had been in Wuhan when she contracted the virus for the first time in January 2020

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An Indian woman who was the country’s first confirmed case of Covid-19 has again tested positive for the infection.

The 21-year-old unnamed student from Thirussur in southern Kerala state has no symptoms but remains in home isolation after testing positive on July 9.

“She has tested positive though she is asymptomatic. She is in home isolation,” Thrissur District Medical Officer Dr K J Reena told The National.

“She is constantly being monitored by a team of medical workers,” Dr Reena said.

Her infection was confirmed during a routine coronavirus test before a scheduled visit to the national capital.

Many Indian states have begun to require Covid negative certificates for domestic travel following a brutal second wave that battered the country in April and May and left more than 20 million people infected and over 250,000 dead.

The third-year medical student was among a group at Wuhan University that fled the Chinese city at the peak of the coronavirus outbreak in January 2020.

She developed symptoms upon her return and tested positive for the virus on January 30, 2020, becoming the first confirmed case of Covid-19 in the country. She was treated at Thrissur Medical College Hospital for nearly a month.

Days later, two of her friends from the state who had travelled with her from Wuhan also tested positive.

Officials said she had not been vaccinated as she was waiting to resume her studies at the university and see which vaccine would be approved by China for re-entry into the country.

The southern state has been reeling under a huge spike in numbers of Covid-19 cases in recent months, with about one in four of confirmed cases nationwide registered in the region.

What is behind India's new explosive Covid-19 surge?

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On Wednesday, the state reported 14,500 of the total 40,000 new Covid-19 cases in the country, with a test positivity rate of over 10 per cent.

Experts have blamed a local Delta variant for the spike and have said further mutations could trigger a fresh wave in the country that is struggling with its massive immunisation programme as it tries to prevent another widespread outbreak.

India has fully vaccinated about 390 million people — less than six per cent of its total adult population. About 23 per cent of the country's nearly one billion people have received a single shot.

The country aims to inoculate about nine million people a day to reach the entire population by the end of the year but widespread vaccine shortages have meant that less than three million shots are being delivered daily.

Updated: November 01, 2021, 10:20 AM