The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Virus bride’s cabbie shows up

Mumbai, April 25: The taxi driver who ferried the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome- afflicted D’Silva family from Ambernath to Pune has been found.

Sameer Gupte, 32, has been quarantined in Mumbai’s Kasturba Hospital. He said he got in touch with state health department officials after reading newspaper reports about their hunt for him.

“They (the officials) felt I, too, may have been infected by the three-member D’Silva family, now in a Pune hospital, as I had taken them around in my air-conditioned car on April 17,’’ Gupte said.

A team of doctors from the National Institute of Virology, Pune, is now on its way to Mumbai to examine Gupte and his associate, Hussain Sheikh.

The duo had driven siblings Stanley and Julie D’Silva and their mother Vimla to their relatives’ and friends’ place in Pune.

The institute team will collect throat and tongue swab samples from the two.

Sheikh said he should have guessed Stanley was not well as he had “coughed jerkily and sniffed all along”. “We lost no time getting in touch with the health authorities when we learned that the passengers had tested positive for SARS,’’ he said.

State health director Subhash Salunke said the Pune team would arrive in the city later today; their test results would be out in two days.

According to Salunke, tests were being conducted in Pune to find out if any of the others, quarantined after coming into contact with the D’Silvas, were showing symptoms of SARS.

He clarified that the D’Silvas’ neighbours in Ambernath who did not come into contact with them would not be tested. Around 50 people were quarantined in Pune after they interacted with the family. Things took a turn for the worse after 30 people showed up for Julie’s marriage, which she attended by rushing out of the Siddharth Hospital in Pune.

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