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Coronavirus: Delhi likely to request Beijing for evacuation of Indians from Wuhan

The Health Ministry maintained that passengers were being screened at 7 airports in India and risk communication and self-declaration were being done at 12 other airports.

The Health Ministry maintained that passengers were being screened at 7 airports in India and risk communication and self-declaration were being done at 12 other airports.   | Photo Credit: PTI

After a case was confirmed in Nepal, India has strengthened vigil at the Panitanki entry point in West Bengal; WHO urges countries in South-East Asia to remain vigilant and strengthen readiness to rapidly detect any case of importation of the virus and prevent its spread.

India is likely to request the Chinese authorities for a possible evacuation of its nationals from Wuhan, the epicentre of the novel coronavirus outbreak, which has been under lock-down.

A government statement on Monday said arrangements for transport and quarantine of those returning would be made by the Ministries of Health and Civil Aviation. Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba reviewed the situation with the Secretaries of the Ministries of Health, External Affairs, Civil Aviation, Labour and Defence, among others.

After a case was confirmed in Nepal, India has strengthened vigil at the Panitanki entry point in West Bengal.

“We are on high vigil in districts bordering Nepal. Health teams have been deployed at border outposts with Nepal at Jhulaghat and Jauljibi in Pithoragarh,” said a senior official of the Health Ministry. 

Health Secretary Preeti Sudan chaired a video conference with the Chief Secretaries and the Directors-General of Police of Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal and Sikkim, which border Nepal, and senior officials of other States to review preparedness.

Negative so far

The virus has so far killed more than 50 people globally. with Wuhan city seeing a rapidly expanding quarantine effort marked by transport shutdowns and other restrictions on movement. In India, as on Monday, 14 samples were screened for the virus and none has tested positive, and 29,707 passengers of 137 flights have been screened.

“The current estimates of the new coronavirus show an incubation period of 2-10 days. These estimates will be refined as more data become available. We are constantly in touch with the World Health Organisation (WHO) to tackle the situation,” said an official of the Health Ministry.

The World Health Organization (WHO) urged countries in South-East Asia to remain vigilant and strengthen readiness to rapidly detect any case of importation of the virus and prevent its spread. “It is time to focus all efforts on readiness guided by whatever is known about the new coronavirus,” said Poonam Khetrapal Singh, regional director, WHO South-East Asia Region.

She said the WHO was working with the countries to roll out guidelines, prioritising reviewing and building capacities for laboratory diagnostic, including referral of specimens and diagnosis; trainings in case management, specimen collection and transportation, and infection prevention and control; logistics support and communicating risks and promoting desired behavior in the community. Two countries in the WHO South-East Asia Region — Thailand and Nepal — have reported confirmed cases.

The Health Ministry maintained that passengers were being screened at 7 airports in India and risk communication and self-declaration were being done at 12 other airports.

'Timely action is key'

“The States have been asked to ensure that medical officers are deputed to coordinate with the airport authorities, while tertiary hospitals are also identified for these airports. They have also been given protocols for contact tracing, and timely collection and transport of samples of suspected cases. The States also need to assess the requirement of personal protection equipment and masks and undertake necessary procurement to ensure sufficient supply,” the Health Secretary said

She said the States were advised to depute a nodal officer for coordinating the efforts of different agencies and update the Union Health Ministry. “The Shipping Ministry has informed that communication has been sent to the port authorities. They have also been directed to follow up with the Inland Waterways Authority of India and coordinate with the maritime States. The National Disaster Management Authority has been requested to share its guidelines and other relevant information with the State.”

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Printable version | Feb 22, 2020 7:12:30 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/coronavirus-vigil-strengthened-at-india-nepal-border/article30663451.ece

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