Owing to the recent global COVID-19 outbreak , Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Brussels has been rescheduled, the Ministry of External Affairs said on Thursday. This, with India reporting another confirmed novel coronavirus case from Ghaziabad, taking the total to 30.
To prevent the spread of the virus, the Delhi government has now ordered immediate closure of primary schools in the capital till March 31. “All Delhi government, aided, private and schools run by civic bodies will remain shut,” said Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia. Delhi has also suspended biometric attendance.
Responding to questions about the India-EU summit, MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar told journalists that it was decided that delegates should not travel to each other’s countries.
Mr. Kumar said the summit would be rescheduled to a mutually convenient date, which was yet to be decided. The summit was expected to take place at the EU office in Brussels on March 13. On March 4, 10 new cases of coronavirus were reported from Brussels, taking the total number of cases in Belgium to 23.
He also said no case of any Indian being affected by the virus in Iran had emerged, and embassies across the world were on the job to help Indians.
The Union Health Ministry on March 5 confirmed that India had a total number of 30 positive cases of COVID-19 . “A man from Ghaziabad, with recent travel history to Iran, has tested positive for the virus, taking the total number to 30. We have now asked the States to form rapid response teams at district, block and village levels to contain the spread,” said a release by the Health Ministry.
The cases that India has reported so far include “three cases from Kerala, who have now been discharged. In addition, there are three cases from Delhi-NCR, [two with travel history from Italy, and one with travel history of Iran]; six contacts of the first Delhi case with travel history of Italy; one from Telangana with history of Dubai travel and Singapore contact; 16 Italians and one driver[Indian] who was with the Italian tourist group,” the Ministry said.
The two suspected cases of Telangana have tested negative at NIV, Pune. Also, the 14 Italian cases, and all Indian patients are stable and being monitored, according to the Ministry.
Making a suo motu statement first in the Rajya Sabha and then in the Lok Sabha on steps taken to contain the virus, Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said a total of 6,49,452 passengers had been screened at airports till date from 6,550 flights. In addition, there were 29,607 persons under the IDSP community surveillance and contact tracing.
“With the increase in the number of cases in addition to visa restrictions already in place, passengers travelling from /having visited Italy or Republic of Korea and desirous of entering India will need certificate of having tested negative for COVID-19 from the designated laboratories authorised by the health authorities of these countries,” the Health Ministry said. This would be enforced from March 10 and was a temporary measure until COVID-19 cases subside.
The Delhi government’s health officials said five persons who came in contact with the Paytm employee had been tested and quarantined till their results come in.
Stock of raw materials
Assuring that India has sufficient stock of active pharmaceutical ingredients — raw materials needed to make medicines — to last the next three months, Chemicals and Fertilizers Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda said he was heading a task force to increase API production with schemes for specific drug manufacturing parks, so that India becomes self-sufficient in this regard.
The coronavirus outbreak in China has disrupted supply chains for APIs and speaking at an industry event in Ahmedabad, Mr. Gowda said the export ban on 26 APIs for common medicines was imposed to ensure that there was no domestic shortage due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The Sikkim government has decided to suspend issuing Inner Line Permit (ILP) to foreign nationals as a precautionary measure.