China coronavirus: PMO reviews India’s preparedness to combat outbreak

So far, 20,000 people from 115 flights at seven international airports in the country have been screened.

January 25, 2020 08:30 pm | Updated June 19, 2020 06:26 pm IST - New Delhi

An NDMC vehicle fumigates the enclosures along the Rajpath, which is all-set for the Republic Day parade in New Delhi on January 25, 2020.

An NDMC vehicle fumigates the enclosures along the Rajpath, which is all-set for the Republic Day parade in New Delhi on January 25, 2020.

The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) on January 25 reviewed India’s preparedness to deal with the outbreak of the new coronavirus (nCoV), amid mounting global concern over increasing number of cases in China , the epicentre of the outbreak, and several other countries .

At a meeting chaired by P.K. Mishra, Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, Health Ministry officials presented an update about response measures, official sources said.

So far, 20,000 people from 115 flights at seven international airports in the country have been screened. The sources said the National Institute of Virology labs are fully equipped to test the virus and that all State and district health authorities have been alerted.

Earlier, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan reviewed preparations with officials for prevention and management of the nCoV.

No nCoV case has been detected in the country so far . However, 11 persons have been put under observation; out of samples taken from them, the samples of four passengers have been confirmed to be negative for nCoV by the ICMR-NIV Pune lab. One of the Mumbai patients tested positive for rhinovirus and one for routine common cold virus,” he said.

“The situation is being closely monitored at the highest level,” said Dr. Vardhan.

24X7 helpline set up for coronavirus

As the number of confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus (nCoV) rise across the world, the government on Saturday set up a round-the-clock National Centre for Disease Control Call Centre ( +91-11-23978046)  to attend to public queries. 

“The call centre will monitor the list of contacts furnished by the Ministry of External Affairs; provide details of district and State surveillance officers to callers and in case of any clinical query, direct the concerned to the relevant Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP) officer,” officials in the Health Ministry said.

Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan urged passengers who have a travel history to China since January 1, 2020 to come forward for self-reporting if they experience any symptoms such as fever, cough, respiratory distress, etc. and also inform their treating doctor.

“We are in touch with the World Health Organisation (WHO) for technical support and guidance,” the Minister said after a review of preparedness.

Dr. Harsh Vardhan said he spoke with the Chief Minister of Uttarakhand and assured all support for screening at the border with Nepal, where a confirmed nCoV case had been reported. “We are also writing to the Chief Ministers requesting for personal intervention to review the preparedness,” he added. 

The Ministry directed for multi-disciplinary Central teams to be formed and sent to the seven States where thermal screening is being done at the airports (New Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Kochi). 

“The Central team will consist of a public health expert, a clinician and a microbiologist. The teams shall reach the respective States on Sunday. They shall review the end-to-end preparedness for management and control of nCoV including that at the airports, for thermal screening and transferring of patients to hospitals for isolation, and shall also visit the tertiary hospitals attached to the airports for reviewing the isolation wards and availability of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and masks, etc. They shall also review whether the infection control, surveillance and other guidelines are being followed. The teams shall coordinate with the State Health Secretaries to explore all avenues for further supporting and strengthening the States’ preparedness,’’ said a health official.

An advisory has also been issued to all States/UTs for Severe Acute Respiratory Infection (SARI) surveillance to pick up any travel-related case reported in the community and follow up contacts of suspect/confirmed cases. 

“The National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune is fully geared up to test samples of nCoV. Ten other laboratories under the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR)’s Viral Research and Diagnostics Laboratories (VRDL) network are also equipped to test such samples, if a need arises,” said a release issued by the Ministry.

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