A thermal screening device checks passengers arriving in India from China, in view of the coronavirus outbreak, at Delhi international airport | PTI Photo
File photo of a thermal screening device checking passengers arriving in India from China, in view of the coronavirus outbreak, at Delhi international airport | PTI Photo
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New Delhi: The Centre has stepped up vigil in areas bordering Nepal in view of a confirmed case of novel coronavirus detected there.

The Union Health Ministry on Monday said teams of healthcare professionals have been deployed in West Bengal’s Panitanki and Uttarakhand’s Jhulaghat and Jauljibi in Pithoragarh district, bordering Nepal.

Union Health Secretary Preeti Sudan chaired a video-conference meeting with chief secretaries and police chiefs of the five states bordering Nepal — Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal and Sikkim to review their preparedness for prevention and management of novel coronavirus. The Principal Secretary (Health) carried out a similar exercise with other states and Union Territories.

Till Sunday, 29,707 passengers arriving in India in 137 flights have been screened for novel coronovirus infection symptoms and no case has so far been detected in India.

Over 100 people have been kept under observation in Kerala and Maharashtra following screening for a possible exposure to the novel coronavirus, which spread in China.

“Subsequent to confirmed #coronarvirus case in #Nepal, vigil strengthened at Panitanki (West Bengal) entry point from Nepal,” the Health Ministry said in a tweet on Monday.

“In response to confirmed case of #nCoV2019 in #Nepal, India has stepped up vigil in districts bordering Nepal. Health Teams deployed at BOP with Nepal at Jhulaghat and Jauljibi, Dist Pithoragarh, #Uttarakhand,” it had tweeted on Sunday.

Sudan reviewed the preparedness of the 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, a health ministry statement stated.

States have informed that they have made all necessary arrangements for screening of people transiting across the border.

They also informed that travel advisories, other guidelines and protocols issued by the Health Ministry have been also widely disseminated. Orientation of the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB), the medical personnel, and health officials has also been conducted, the statement stated.

Awareness drives are being undertaken through public address system, distribution of leaflets and signages at the border check posts.

The ministry has also advised for special gram sabhas to be organised in coordination with the Department of Panchayati Raj over this week for enhancing awareness regarding the coronavirus diseases, its symptoms, preventive measures, reporting etc. in the border villages.

Sudan also advised them to coordinate with the Hotels Association for wider self-reporting by travellers from Nepal visiting religious and other tourist places in these states.

She advised the states to ensure that medical officers are deputed to coordinate with the airport authorities, while tertiary hospitals are also identified for these airports.

Sudan also advised the states to ensure that protocols for contact tracing, and timely collection and transportation of samples from suspected cases to NIV, Pune is followed.

States have been advised to depute a nodal officer for coordinating the efforts of the different agencies within the states, and to regularly update progress to the Union Health Ministry.

Ajay Kumar Bhalla, Secretary, Home Affairs interacted with DGP of the States/UTs and guided them on key steps to be taken up in the bordering areas, in coordination with the Health Dept.

The Shipping Ministry informed that necessary communication has been sent to the national port authorities. They were also directed to follow up with the Inland Waterways Authority of India, and coordinate with the maritime states. NDMA has been requested to share its guidelines and other relevant information with the state authorities, the statement stated.

The Prime Minister’s Office on Saturday reviewed India’s preparedness to deal with any situation amid mounting global concern over rising cases in China.

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Saturday said samples of seven passengers have been sent to the ICMR-NIV Pune lab.

One person each from Thrissur, Thiruvananthapuram, Pathanamthitta and Malappuram and three from Ernakulam are in isolation wards of various health centres in the state.

A 24×7 NCDC call centre (+91-11-23978046) has been made operational to monitor the list of contacts furnished by the Ministry of External Affairs; provide details of district and state surveillance officers to those who seek them; and in case of any clinical query, direct the concerned to the relevant Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP) officer.

Thermal screening is being done at seven designated airports — New Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Kochi.

The Union health minister has urged passengers who have a travel history to China since January 1, 2020, to come forward for self-reporting at the nearest health facility if they experience any symptoms such as fever, cough, respiratory distress, etc., and also inform their doctors.

Novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a large family of viruses that causes illnesses ranging from common cold to acute respiratory syndromes, but the virus that has so far killed 80 people and affected 2,744 in China is a novel strain and not seen before.

It has emerged from a seafood and animal market in China’s Wuhan, and is suspected to have spread to as far as the United States. According to the World Health Organisation, the common symptoms of the novel coronavirus strain include respiratory symptoms such as fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties.

Also read: Coronavirus unlikely to turn global pandemic, say experts


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