National helpline for coronavirus busy, Delhi advisers forthcoming
The national helpline for the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) was busy almost all day on Wednesday after 15 of 21 Italian tourists tested positive, taking the total number of infected people in India to 29.
Calls to the helpline went unanswered or the number was busy when HT reporters tried calling it at least 30 times during the day to inquire about the precautions people could take against the virus.
The national helpline runs 10 lines, according to the ministry of health and family welfare. The Delhi government-run Covid-19 helplines were accessible all day.
When asked if those with fever and cough but no travel history to countries with a high Covid-19 burden, the Delhi helpline adviser suggested general precautions like confining oneself to a different room...; avoiding crowded places and washing hands after coming home. The adviser also suggested use of hand sanitisers and drinking a sufficient amount of liquids to keep oneself hydrated.
To a query on whether playschool children should continue going to school, another Delhi Covid-19 helpline adviser said: “We have to care for our children. As of now we don’t have any guideline from the government on whether kids should continue school...you think about it.”
She also passed on the number of a doctor responsible for the southern zone in case the symptoms aggravate. The doctor told HT, on condition of anonymity that she has been getting calls from people with a travel history to affected countries on where they could get tested.
On the national helpline, when asked if those running a fever should get tested for the virus, the advisor said “no” and hung up the phone. When asked on the Delhi helpline, whether meat should be shunned, an adviser said: “It’s better if you can avoid chicken. It’s a personal decision. If at all you decide to eat it please cook properly. We have not been told about any medication. If there are any homeopathic or ayurvedic medicines that do not cause side-effects you can take them...”.
The national helpline 011-23978046 was busy most of the time. The national helpline received 6300 calls since it started on January 17 of which 698 were international calls.
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