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India reports first COVID-19 death

An image of the new coronavirus taken with an electron microscope. © U.S. National Institutes of Health/AP/Shutterstock

India reported the first death from the novel coronavirus infection COVID-19 today (12 March 2019) in the southern state of Karnataka, hours after the national capital Delhi declared the disease an epidemic, closing down educational institutes and cinema halls till the month-end.

Karnataka Health Minister B Sriramulu said a 76 year old man who had returned to Kalaburgi in Karanataka from Saudi Arabia on February 29 died of the novel coronavirus infection.

The state government had begun the "necessary contact tracing, isolation and other measures", he said in a tweet. The man came to the Karnataka capital Bengaluru via Hyderabad, the capital of the neighbouring state Telangana.

With 77 cases of COVID-19 across India, the country also mounted its emergency response to the fast-spreading pandemic by suspending all tourist visas and e-visas for travellers till 15 April 2020.

Health minister Harsh Vardhan announced that besides the suspension, starting 13 March 2020, all incoming travellers, including Indian nationals, arriving from or having visited China, Italy, Iran, Republic of Korea, France, Spain and Germany after 15 February will be quarantined for a minimum period of 14 days upon entry in India.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said no minister of his cabinet will travel abroad in the upcoming days and urged people to also avoid non-essential travel and large gathering to "break the chain of spread".

Update on 13 March 2020:

Capital Delhi reported its first death due to COVID-19 today, taking the death toll in India due to the pandemic to two. A 68 year old woman infected with the novel coronavirus died at Delhi's Ram Manohar Lohia hospital.

The total number of people infected with the novel coronavirus in India rose to 81. These include 64 Indians, 16 Italians, a Canadian, India's health secretary Luv Agarwal said.

[Nature India's latest coverage on the novel coronavirus and COVID-19 pandemic here . More updates on the global crisis here .]


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