India issues advisory against travel to China as Coronavirus scare peaks
So far, 11 people who have been to Chinese cities are under quarantine, of which four have tested negative for a novel coronavirus infection. Two more samples were sent to the National Institute of Virology in Pune on Saturday.Updated: Jan 26, 2020 04:54 IST
India issued on Saturday a new travel advisory asking citizens to avoid all “non-essential travel” to China while a senior adviser to the Prime Minister held a meeting with top bureaucrats to review the country’s preparedness in tackling the outbreak of a deadly new virus that is rampaging through central China.
According to officials aware of the development, principal secretary to Prime Minister, PK Mishra chaired a high level meeting attended by the cabinet secretary as well as the secretaries of home affairs, external affairs, defence, health and family welfare and civil aviation .
The meeting, the sources said, was convened at the directions of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to review mechanisms amid fears that the contagion could play havoc if it reaches India.
A 24X7 call centre at the National Centre for Disease Control in Delhi— +91-11-23978046— has also been activated to encourage passengers with travel history to China, who develop symptoms such as fever, cough, respiratory disease etc, to self-report. The call centre will direct suspected cases to experts in their area, and will also monitor details of passengers provided by the ministry of external affairs.
So far, 11 people who have been to Chinese cities are under quarantine, of which four have tested negative for a novel coronavirus infection. Two more samples were sent to the National Institute of Virology in Pune on Saturday.
Special screening of travellers will also be conducted at the Nepal border near Uttarakhand with the neighbouring country reporting its first positive case of the virus.
“Dr Harsh Vardhan has spoken to the chief minister of Uttarakhand today and assured all support for screening at the border with Nepal, where a confirmed nCoV case has been reported. He is also writing to the chief ministers of states requesting for their personal intervention to review the state preparedness for control and management of nCoV,” said health ministry in a statement on Saturday.
Harsh Vardhan held a review meeting early on Saturday with experts from Indian Council of Medical Research, National Centre for Disease Control, health ministry etc. and formed seven central teams that will visit the states where thermal screening is being done at the seven designated airports (New Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Kochi).
The central teams that are expected to reach the states on Sunday shall consist of a public health expert, a clinician and a microbiologist. They shall review the end-to-end preparedness for management and control of nCoV in the states including reviewing that the infection control, surveillance and other guidelines are being followed properly or not.
The teams will also visit the tertiary hospitals attached to the airports for reviewing the isolation wards and availability of personal protective equipment and masks etc.
“The Centre is extending all possible support to states in taking preventive measures and ensuring all states are equipped to handle any emergency situation that could arise. The government is also in touch with the World Health Organisation for technical support. The situation is being closely monitored,” said a senior health ministry official.