COVID-19: govt. for universal screening at all airports

Testing facilities to be opened at district level

March 04, 2020 10:27 pm | Updated 10:54 pm IST - New Delhi

Members of the Italian tour group being taken to the ITBP's quarantine facility at Chhawla camp in Delhi on Tuesday.

Members of the Italian tour group being taken to the ITBP's quarantine facility at Chhawla camp in Delhi on Tuesday.

Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister P.K. Mishra on Wednesday chaired a crucial meeting called to discuss ways to combat the deadly COVID-19 , where it was decided to introduce universal screening at all international airports of the country.

The meeting was attended by the Cabinet Secretary, Foreign Secretary, Secretaries of Ministries of Health, Civil Aviation, Information and Broadcasting, Shipping, Tourism, Chairman (Airport Authority of India) and Secretary (Border Management), MHA.

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Officials from defence forces, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), NITI Aayog and the Prime Minister’s Office also attended.

Two major changes have been made to further enhance the government’s level of preparedness. These include introduction of universal screening at all international airports and sea-ports through use of thermal imagery equipment and mandatory filling of declaration forms of places visited by tourists and travellers returning from abroad.

It was also decided to rapidly implement opening of proper testing, isolation and quarantine facilities down to the district level, in partnership with State governments.

Coordination with Health Ministry

Ministries such as MHA, MoD, Railways and Labour would work with the Ministry of Health through the use of their facilities and hospitals, the meeting decided.

While efforts to contain the spread were appreciated, it was decided to enhance effectiveness of the steps taken by adopting a pan-government approach, in partnership with the States.

The meeting took note of the confusion among the people over lack of proper knowledge of the virus. The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting is entrusted with disseminating information in a timely manner, including relevant advisories and ‘dos and don’ts’.

“The Ministry of Health briefed the meeting on the positive impact of a 24-hour medical helpline, operational across the country since January 23 with 10 dedicated telephone lines. These facilities have received over 6,000 phone calls,” said a government release.

The participation of communities and local bodies was also stressed in the meeting to combat the public health challenge posed by the virus.

Earlier on Monday, PM Modi tweeted: “Experts across the world have advised to reduce mass gatherings to avoid the spread of COVID-19 Novel Coronavirus. Hence, this year I have decided not to participate in any Holi Milan programme.” On Tuesday, he urged people not to panic.

Wednesday’s was the latest in a series of stock-taking meetings at the PMO, with the first held on January 25.

The first case in Delhi was detected on Monday . Six suspected cases are also detected in Agra, who came in contact with the person from Delhi found to be infected. As of now, 28 cases of the virus have been reported across India including the Italian nationals who have now been quarantined.

So far, 3,110 people have died across the globe due to the highly contagious virus.

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