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Vigil stepped up at Nepal border for coronavirus

PUBLISHED ON JAN 28, 2020 12:00 AM IST

New Delhi With a confirmed case of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) reported from its neighbouring Nepal, India has stepped up vigil at the Nepal border, and is screening people travelling across the border,.

Union health secretary Preeti Sudan on Monday chaired a meeting through video conference with chief secretaries of the five states bordering Nepal — Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal and Sikkim, to review their preparedness.

Special focus is on travellers from Nepal visitng religious and other tourist places in India, said health ministry in a statement. Special health teams have already been deployed at border outposts in Jhulaghat and Jauljibi in district Pithoragarh (Uttarkhand), and at Panitanki entry point in West Bengal, and will be soon be expanded in the other states that share borders with Nepal, added the statement .

“Secretary reviewed the preparedness of these bordering states in terms of orientation of health and other agencies;adherence of various prevention and management protocols; awareness regarding prevention of coronavirus among the people being screened and those transiting the border with Nepal; self-reporting by these people; isolation wards; protective gear etc.,” said the ministry statement.

As part of extra vigil, the Uttarakhand, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar governments have started medical examination of people coming from Nepal, said a senior health ministry official. In Rajasthan, medical staff has been deployed at the airport for scanning passengers coming from China. Rajasthan health minister also asked all district medical officers to maintain a vigil about the virus.

Orientation sessions have been conducted of teams from the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB), the medical personnel, and health officials in these states.Regular awareness drives are being undertaken through miking, distribution of leaflets and signages at the border check posts.

Apart from thermal screening of travellers from China already taking place in 7 airports, screening will also begin at ports.

“Shipping ministry has communicated to the national port authorities as they have been directed to follow up with the inland waterways authority of India, and coordinate with the maritime states. All possible steps are being taken to check the entry and spread of the infection. So far there has been no positive case of coronavirus infection in India,” said the ministry official.

The Centre has advised the states to involve rural heads to conduct special Gram Sabhas in coordination with department of Panchayati Raj to enhance awareness regarding the coronavirus diseases, its symptoms, preventive measures, reporting etc. in the border villages, said the official. The state governments have also been asked to involve the Hotels Association for wider self-reporting by travellers from across the border, added the official.

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