First Coronavirus Death in India Involves 76-Year-Old Man

March 13, 2020 Updated: March 13, 2020

A 76-year old man who passed away in India on Wednesday from suspected COVID-19 has been confirmed to have contracted the disease, the government in India’s southern state of Karnataka said on Friday, according to local media reports.

Mohammed Hussain Siddiq was being treated at a hospital in the Indian city of Kalaburagi after experiencing breathlessness and other cold-and-flu symptoms. He had returned from Saudi Arabia on Feb. 29 where he had been visiting for a month.

The man was tested by a Kalaburagi hospital on March 9 and diagnosed with “mid zone Viral Pneumonia” while being identified as a “suspected COVID-19″ case.

However, when his family insisted that he be discharged from the hospital, authorities let him leave and he was taken by family members to Hyderabad, Telangana, only to be admitted to a private hospital there later. He died on Tuesday.

“The necessary contact tracing, isolation and other measures as per protocol are being carried out. Telangana government has also been informed since he went to a private hospital there,” the Karnataka health department said. It added that it was trying to trace those who had been in contact with him.

India so far has detected 74 confirmed cases of the virus. It has a population of 1.3 billion.

The New Delhi government ordered schools, theatres, and cinemas to be closed for the rest of the month in an effort to limit the risk of a potential epidemic in the country. Other regions including Uttrakhand, Chhattisgarh and Manipur have done the same, the Hindustan Times reported.

India also said on Wednesday that it would cancel almost all visas until April 15. The ban on foreign visitors includes Indian nationals who reside abroad. However, there are exemptions for diplomats, officials, and members of international organizations such as the United Nations. Meanwhile, Indian nationals have been told to avoid all non-essential travel abroad.

The move follows last week’s decision by the country to bar entry to nationals from China, South Korea, Italy, Iran, and Japan.

The novel virus that causes the disease COVID-19 was first reported in Wuhan, a city of about 11 million people in China’s Hubei Province, in early December 2019. The virus is in the same family of pathogens that causes the flu and SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome).

The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, coughing, and difficulty breathing, although Chinese researchers have noted other symptoms, such as fatigue, diarrhea, chest pains, and headaches.

Melanie Sun and Reuters contributed to this report.

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