Who and how – the first 15 cases of coronavirus in Georgia
This brings the total number up to 15, with 141 more in quarantine and 51 under supervision in inpatient clinics.
Two patients are in critical condition with bilateral pneumonia.
The first case of coronavirus in Georgia was discovered on February 26 in a Georgian citizen returning home from Iran.
All 15 afflicted are Georgian citizens. Two of the citizens caught the virus in Iran, while the majority of them brought it back home with them from Italy. Only two cases were detected at the border – the others went to clinics later, and the majority of them did not quarantine themselves after returning home.
None of the patients are elderly, i.e., in a high-risk group. All official information about patients with coronavirus is available on the government website stopcov.ge.
How the virus spread in Georgia
The first case of coronavirus was discovered on February 26. Medical professionals stopped a 50-year-old man on the Azerbaijani-Georgian border and sent him directly to the infectious diseases hospital. Because of this, he had no contact with other Georgian citizens. He is in stable condition.
The second case was discovered on February 28 in a 31-year-old woman traveling from Italy. After returning home, she went to work at a Bank of Georgia branch. The branch was soon closed and disinfected. All those who had contact with the infected are in quarantine, either at the hospital or at home.
The third case was confirmed on February 29. The Georgian citizen had contact with the “patient zero” of the Georgian outbreak. They were both together in Iran. As with the first case, the man was stopped at the Azerbaijani-Georgian border and taken to an infectious diseases hospital.
The fourth case was discovered late on the evening of March 4. The 44-year-old was in worse condition than the others, with a high temperature and bilateral pneumonia. His situation is much more critical. He returned to Tbilisi from Venice on the morning of March 2, but he was only in Venice on a layover. In reality, he and his travel companions (friends and family members) were actually returning from Italy, where they had spent several days. As was later discovered, the patient is the head of a pharmaceutical company, and his office is located in the building of the head office of the large medical center Evex (but not in the hospital itself).
Initially, the Center for Disease Control thanked him for taking responsibility and quarantining himself upon returning home from Italy. It soon became clear, however, that this was not the case. A few hours after returning from Italy, he went to work, spoke with his colleagues, and participated in several meetings.
The next day, his condition worsened, his temperature rose, and he was treated at home for two days, and only after that did he go to the infectious diseases hospital, where he was tested and diagnosed with coronavirus. As a result, the Evex head office was closed and disinfected, and everyone who came in contact with him was quarantined. But these measures were not enough to stop the spread of the disease – at least one other person became infected because of “Patient #4.”
Cases #5, 6, 7, 8 and 9
On the evening of March 5, five more cases of coronavirus were confirmed at the Lugar Laboratory. All five are people who came in contact with “Patient #4,” namely, those accompanied him on his trip to Italy. They all returned to Georgia early morning on March 2, and since they had no symptoms of the disease, they headed home. Only after Patient #4 was diagnosed did the doctors start trying to determine who he had come in contact with. They are still working to find some of the contacts.
This is the only patient whose name has been revealed. On March 7, he wrote on his Facebook page that he had become infected. Nikoloz Gamkrelidze, son Amiran Gamkrelidze, head of the Center for Disease Control, was infected by Patient #4. After learning that he had come in contact with an infected person, Nikoloz Gamkrelidze decided to quarantine himself, but, after his condition began to deteriorate, he turned to doctors for help. He says that all people he was in contact with during this time have been identified and quarantined.
Cases #11, 12, and 13
On March 7, three more cases were discovered. All three cases were traced back to Italy.
On March 9, a patient with signs of coronavirus was admitted to a Tbilisi infectious diseases hospital. He had not traveled recently, but was another victim of “Patient #4.”
A patient who was diagnosed with coronavirus on March 9 had returned home from Spain 17 days prior. While abroad, however, he was frequently in contact with Italian citizens. Therefore, at this stage it is not known whether the virus has a Spanish or Italian origin. The patient went from his home to the clinic, and had not quarantined himself.
Here are four important recommendations from the Georgian Center for Disease Control:
• Quarantine yourself for 14 days after returning home from traveling abroad (especially from Italy, China, South Korea, or Iran).
• Wash your hands frequently and practice proper hygiene.
• Maintain a distance of 1.5 meters when communicating with others.
• Avoid crowded places.