Coronavirus: India on high alert; no confirmed cases so far, says Harsh Vardhan

With a few suspected Coronavirus cases coming into light, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has geared itself to control the menace.

“There is nothing to panic, coronavirus has not come to India. We have taken all precautionary measures. All hospitals have been asked to make isolation wards, we have launched a helpline number,” health minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan was quoted as saying today.

Union health ministry, Government of India, has issued 24×7 helpline number 011-23978046, for any technical inquiry.

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Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Health & Family Welfare held a high level review meeting, on Saturday, with senior officers of the health ministry, ICMR and NCDC, to analyse the current situation, preparedness and steps being taken for prevention and management of Novel Coronavirus (nCoV) in India.

The minister, then, spoke to Chief Minister of Uttarakhand and assured all support for screening at the border with Nepal, where a confirmed nCoV case has been reported.

He has also written to the chief ministers of other states requesting for their personal intervention to review the state preparedness for control and management of nCoV.

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Meanwhile, Cabinet Secretary, for past two days, has been reviewing the situation arising out of “Novel Coronavirus” outbreak in China.

Those attending the meeting were secretaries in the ministries of health, external affairs, civil aviation, labour, defence, I&B and member-secretary, National Disaster Management Authority, DG (Armed Forces Medical Services).

Cabinet Secretary was informed that till Sunday 137 flights have been screened (total cumulative passengers 29,707).

In addition, samples of 12 passengers were referred to NIV Pune, though there were no confirmed cases by then.

In the meeting, Ministry of Civil Aviation was asked to issue instruction to airlines for managing and notifying anybody reporting illness on all flights with direct or indirect connectivity to China; facilitate in-flight announcements; and distribution of health cards to all flights with direct or indirect connectivity to China.

Ministry of Home Affairs will ensure that integrated check posts initiate screening of visitors across Nepal border. States have been requested to provide health staff for these check posts. SSB/ BSF/Immigration officers manning integrated check posts have been sensitized.

The meeting decided that Ministry of Shipping will initiate entry screening at the international ports having traffic from China.

The deadly virus, which began less than a month ago in China, has killed over 100 people so far. Not only this, the disease has so far spread to over 10 countries, which include Canada, Germany, Thailand and Nepal.

In India, three persons have been kept under observation in Delhi’s Ram Manohar Lohia hospital with flu-like symptoms after they returned from China.

There are also suspected cases in isolation in Kolkata, Jaipur, Chandigarh and Patna. Of the 17 cases, 14 samples were tested and they have come negative for the virus so far. We are requesting people for information-sharing through self-declaration on symptoms of the virus,” he said, adding that with the World Health Organisation (WHO) now saying coronavirus could spread through droplets, contact and fomites, the Ministry was working on disseminating this update.

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