Coronavirus: self-declaration forms in aircrafts, separate immigration counters at Chennai airport

Tamil Nadu Health Secretary Beela Rajesh held a meeting with airport officials on Wednesday

Published - January 29, 2020 03:22 pm IST - CHENNAI

Arrangements have been made to screen passengers travelling from affected countries

Arrangements have been made to screen passengers travelling from affected countries

Travellers from China or any of the countries affected by the novel coronavirus are now being asked to fill self-declaration forms before disembarkation at the Chennai airport. At the airport, 10 separate immigration desks have been set up for travellers with symptoms, Health Secretary Beela Rajesh said.

On Wednesday, Dr. Rajesh held a meeting with stakeholders, including officials of the customs, immigration, airport manager, regional disease surveillance programme officials, Port Trust officials and airport doctors at the Chennai airport. She inspected the measures in place to screen passengers from the affected countries.

“All airlines have been instructed to make an announcement before asking passengers to disembark from the flight to fill self-declaration forms. Travellers from China or any of the seven countries where persons have tested positive for coronavirus will have to fill the forms giving their names, address and contact numbers, and if they have the three symptoms of fever, cough and breathing difficulty,” she said.

If any of the passengers have symptoms, a protocol has been put in place where airport doctors would screen them in a separate examination room. They will be advised home quarantine and monitored for 28 days, she added.

“Already, three separate immigration counters have been set up for travellers with symptoms. With cases being reported in an increasing number of countries, seven more separate immigration desks have been set up for these passengers. The required personal protection equipment is available for doctors and paramedical personnel,” she said.

A dedicated ambulance has been deployed at the airport to shift passengers with symptoms to the isolation ward at the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital, if required.

Sample testing

Being a new strain of the coronavirus, the Health Secretary said samples would be sent for testing to the National Institute of Virology, Pune. “We also have dedicated courier services to carry the samples for confirmatory tests in Pune,” Dr. Rajesh said.

While thermal screening is in place at the Chennai airport, it will be launched at Tiruchi airport on Wednesday, while symptomatic screening was being done at the Coimbatore and Madurai airports. Signages were put up at the airports asking travellers from China to approach desks for health screening.

There are no positive cases of coronavirus in Tamil Nadu, she said. “The transmission of coronavirus is 20% air borne, and 80% by touching contaminated surfaces. So, we have asked the airports to clean the surfaces regularly. Wall-mounted hand rubs are available in the airport,” she said.

She added that a mock drill would be conducted to check for the flow of arrangements if a person with symptoms has to be shifted from the airport to the isolation ward in the ambulance.

“We have also alerted the seaport authorities to take up screening,” she said.

Dr. Rajesh urged members of the public to wash their hands regularly and to cover their mouths and noses while coughing or sneezing. Avoid contact with animals and consume well-cooked non vegetarian dishes, she added.

Officials of the Health Department including K. Kolandaswamy, director of public health, was present at the meeting.

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