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India gears up to meet Coronavirus challenge

Passengers from 43 flights screened, healthcare infrastructure in readiness

GN Bureau | January 23, 2020


#health ministry   #health   #China   #Coronavirus   #civil aviation ministry  
Photo courtesy: Ministry of Civil Aviation (@MoCA_GoI) Twitter
Photo courtesy: Ministry of Civil Aviation (@MoCA_GoI) Twitter

With the outbreak of Coronavirus reported from China, India has started taking precautionary measures, and begun screening passengers of selected flights.

“As of 21st January, a total of 43 flights and 9156 passengers have been screened for novel Coronavirus illness. Till now, no case has been detected through these screening efforts. We are on alert & our preparedness is sturdy,” stated Preeti Sudan, secretary, health & family welfare, Government of India, in an official release on the preparedness measures taken by the ministry on novel Coronavirus nCoVreported in China.

She also stated that passengers travelling from China are being requested to report to the nearest public health facility in case they feel any symptoms.

As part of the measures taken by the Ministries of health & family welfare, and civil aviation, a travel advisory has been issued and posted on the health ministry’s website. It has also been shared on Twitter handle for wider circulation.

The health ministry has instructed the airport health organizations at Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Cochin to screen passengers coming from mainland China there. Signages have been put up at prominent locations in these airports for encouraging public about self-reporting of illness. Immigration officers manning the counters have been sensitized at these airports. Close coordination is being maintained with ministry of civil aviation for the screening effort and dissemination of information to inbound passengers through in-flight announcements.

The health ministry is constantly reviewing the evolving scenario working closely with ministry of civil aviation, ministry of external affairs, dept. of health research and the Indian embassy in China. The WHO is being consulted for updates on technical inputs. A series of meetings have been held to review the emerging scenario, preparedness in terms of disease surveillance, laboratory support infection prevention & control, logistics, risk communication and in particular, hospital preparedness and need for coordination and collaboration with other ministries.

The health ministry has also approached all states/UTs to review their preparedness, identify gaps and strengthen core capacities needed to prepare for, detect and respond to possible outbreaks. The Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme has issued advisory to all states/UTs to pick up any travel-related case reported in the community and follow up contacts of suspect/confirmed cases. The National Institute of Virology, Pune is fully geared up to test samples of nCoV. Ten other laboratories under Indian Council of Medical Research’s Viral Research and Diagnostics Laboratories network is also equipped to test such samples, if need arises. Adequate stock of Personal Protection Equipment is being maintained by the Medical Stores Organization.

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