‘12,828 from 60 flights screened, no Novel Coronovirus case found’

According to reports from Wuhan, where the virus started surfacing a few weeks ago, 17 new cases have been reported, taking the total number of cases to 62.

According to reports from Wuhan, where the virus started surfacing a few weeks ago, 17 new cases have been reported, taking the total number of cases to 62.   | Photo Credit: AP

Passengers travelling from China instructed to report to nearest public health facility in case of any symptoms, says Health Secreatry Preeti Sudan

A total of 12,828 passengers from 60 flights have been screened for Novel Coronavirus (nCoV) and no one with its symptoms had been detected so far. However, the evolving scenario and the preparedness status were being regularly reviewed, Health Secretary Preeti Sudan said on Thursday.

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare had written to the States/Union Territories to review their preparedness, identify gaps and strengthen core capacities in surveillance, laboratory support, infection prevention and control, logistics, risk communication and in particular, hospital preparedness in terms of isolation and ventilator management of critically ill patients, she said.

Watch | Coronavirus outbreak spreads out of China

The Ministry had written to Maharashtra, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Kerala and Karnataka to review and strengthen the preparedness measures at the designated airports for provision of isolation and critical care facilities.

The National Institute of Virology, Pune, is fully geared to test samples of nCoV. Ten other laboratories under the Indian Council of Medical Research’s Viral Research and Diagnostics Laboratories network were also equipped to test such samples if a need arose, Ms. Sudan noted.

“Port and airport health organisations have been sensitised and thermal screening initiated at the international airports of Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Kochi. The Airport Health Organizations in these cities have put up signages at prominent locations informing the public about self-reporting of illness. Immigration officers manning the counters have been sensitized at these airports,’’ she said.

Under an Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme, advisory had been issued to all States/UTs for surveillance to pick up any travel-related case reported in the community and follow up contacts of suspect/confirmed case.

A team, Ms. Sudan said, was keeping a “close watch” on the developments concerning nCoV that had killed at least 17 people in China’s Wuhan. “We are keeping a close watch on the developments across the country and our team is in touch with the WHO [World Health Organisation] for updates and ensure that the preparedness measures are of international standards. This is a dynamic situation and currently not much is known and established about the virus.

WHO studying situation

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom said after the world body’s first meeting on the issue on Wednesday that they have not arrived at a decision “about whether or not to declare a public health emergency of international concern on the nCoV.”

He said this was a decision “I take extremely seriously, and one I am only prepared to make with appropriate consideration of all the evidence.”

The WHO maintained that the situation was evolving and complex. “For that reason, I have decided to ask the Emergency Committee to meet again to continue their discussion,” he said.

“Public health actions do not begin at the declaration of public health of emergency of international concern. Precautionary actions are already well underway,” maintained the WHO.

The WHO was coordinating research collaboration on the nCoV to be sure discoveries were accelerated. “There is evidence of person-to-person transmission among close contacts such as in families or in health care settings. This is not unexpected with respiratory disease. We have not seen any evidence of onward transmission such as 3rd, 4th generation transmission,” it said.

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Printable version | Feb 18, 2020 3:37:59 AM |

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