PM says government fully vigilant, urges people not to panic
GN Bureau | March 13, 2020
COVID-19 has claimed first life in India as the authorities scrambled to contain the further spread Novel Coronavirus.
A 76-year-old man in Karnataka who had tested positive for COVID-19 died Tuesday due to “co-morbidity”. He had gone to Saudi Arabia on January 29, returned to Hyderabad on February 29 and then reached to Kalaburgi. While he was asymptomatic on his return, he developed symptoms of fever and cough on March 6. A private doctor visited him at his home and treated him there, an official release said on Thursday.
On March 9, the symptoms got aggravated and he was shifted to a private hospital in Kalaburgi. In this private hospital he was provisionally diagnosed as “mid zone Viral Pneumonia” and “suspected COVID-19”. A sample was collected the same day by Viral Research Diagnostic Laboratory, GIMS, Kalaburgi, to rule out COVID-19 and sample was dispatched to VRDL, BMC&RI, Bengaluru. Without waiting for the test results, the attendees insisted and the patient was discharged against medical advice (DAMA) and the attendees took him to a private hospital in Hyderabad.
As per instructions of the deputy commissioner, Kalaburgi district, the DHO met the attendees to convince them to admit the patient to the Gulbarga Institute of Medical Sciences (GIMS), Kalaburgi, in the isolation ward set up at the Institute. But the attendees refused to listen to him. They transferred him to Hyderabad without his knowledge.
The patient was admitted in a private hospital in Hyderabad and treated. Later he was discharged and while he was being brought back he died on the way to the GIMS, Kalaburgi, on March 10.
All the precautionary measures as per protocol such as contact tracing, screening and home quarantine of the contacts have been initiated by the District Health and Family Welfare Department, Karnataka and being monitored continuously.
With over 118,000 coronavirus cases sweeping across 114 countries of the world, the World Health Organization declared it a pandemic Wednesday.
Prime minister Narendra Modi is constantly monitoring and reviewing the situation with the top officials of the concerned ministries/departments and states/UTs since the first case was declared on December 31 in the city of Wuhan in China.
India’s response began on January 8, much before WHO declared COVID-19 as a public health emergency on January 30. States were directed for health sector preparedness on January 17. On the same day, point of entry surveillance was also initiated.
Various measures have been taken by the central ministries along with states/UTs in terms of strengthened community surveillance, quarantine facilities, isolation wards, adequate PPEs, trained manpower, rapid response teams for management of COVID-19. Screening at airports was started on January 17 at three airports (Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata) which was extended to four more airports (Chennai, Cochin, Bengaluru, Hyderabad) on January 21 and subsequently to 30 airports. All incoming passengers are being universally screened at these airports. Similarly, screening was initiated for vessels arriving at 12 major ports and 65 non-major ports.
India has always prioritized the safety and welfare of its citizens abroad and mounted timely evacuation of its citizens starting February 1 from COVID-19 affected countries. So far, the Government of India has evacuated 900 Indian citizens along with 48 belonging to other nationalities like Maldives, Myanmar, Bangladesh, China, US, Madagascar, Sri Lanka, Nepal, South Africa and Peru.
In addition, 83 evacuees from Italy who arrived Wednesday have been housed at Manesar facility for quarantine. All patients in the hospitals are being treated and reported to be stable.
On the directions of the PM, a high-level Group of Ministers was constituted to continuously monitor the situation and evaluate preparedness and formulate measures regarding management of COVID-19 in the country. The GoM has met six times so far, guiding, reviewing and monitoring the situation.
In view of the rapidly evolving situation, two meetings of the GoM were held Wednesday. The GoM deliberated on various precautionary measures which may be considered in the interest of the citizens of India. Based on the recommendations of the Committee of Secretaries chaired by cabinet secretary, the GoM made some important decisions Wednesday evening, which are:
* All existing visas (except diplomatic, official, UN/International Organizations, employment, project visas) stand suspended till 15th April 2020. This will come into effect from 1200 GMT on 13th March 2020 at the port of departure.
* Visa free travel facility granted to OCI card holders is kept in abeyance till 15th April 2020. This will come into effect from 1200 GMT on 13thMarch 2020 at the port of departure.
* OCI card holders already in India can stay in India as long as they want.
* Visas of all foreigners already in India remain valid and they may contact the nearest FRRO/FRO through e-FRRO module for extension/conversion etc. of their visa or grant of any consular service, if they choose to do so.
* Any foreign national who intends to travel to India for compelling reason may contact the nearest Indian Mission.
* In addition to Visa restrictions already in place, passengers traveling 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 authorized by the health authorities of these countries. This is in enforcement since 0000 hrs. of 10th March, 2020 and is a temporary measure till cases of COVID-19 subside.
* All incoming travellers, including Indian nationals, arriving from or having visited China, Italy, Iran, Republic of Korea, France, Spain and Germany after 15th February, 2020 shall be quarantined for a minimum period of 14 days. This will come into effect from 1200 GMT on 13th March 2020 at the port of departure.
* Incoming travellers, including Indian nationals, are advised to avoid non-essential travel and are informed that they can be quarantined for a minimum of 14 days on their arrival in India.
* Indian nationals are further strongly advised to refrain from travelling to China, Italy, Iran, Republic of Korea, France, Spain and Germany.
* All incoming international passengers returning to India should self- monitor their health and follow required do’s and don’ts as detailed by the Government.
* International traffic through land borders will be restricted to designated check posts with robust screening facilities. These will be notified separately by M/o Home Affairs.
* All international Passengers entering into India are required to furnish duly filled self-declaration form in duplicate (including personal particulars i.e. phone no. and address in India) to Health Officials and Immigration officials and undergo Universal Health Screening at the designated health counters at all Points of Entry.
As of late Thursday, 73 cases are confirmed for COVID-19. Three of these cases from Kerala have recovered and been discharged.
PM says government fully vigilant, urges people not to panic
PM Modi said the Government is fully vigilant about the situation due to the COVID-19 Novel Coronavirus. In a tweet Thursday, he said the ministries and states have taken various proactive steps to ensure safety of all. He urged people to not panic and avoid non-essential travel and large gatherings. He added that no minister of the central government will travel abroad in the upcoming days. “We can break the chain of spread and ensure safety of all by avoiding large gatherings,” he said in a tweet message.
Modi received a telephone call from UK PM Boris Johnson, and the two expressed their desire to further strengthen the India-UK Strategic Partnership in the new decade. They also exchanged views on the COVID-19 epidemic. Modi expressed concern on UK health minister Nadine Dorries testing positive for Coronavirus, and wished her a speedy recovery.
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