NEW DELHI: Amid a mounting global scare about a spike of novel coronavirus which has infected over 453 people and killed at least 17 so far in China, India has put its public health system on alert and launched a vigil with a series of precautionary measures including a travel advisory and thermal screening at seven international airports to prevent any spread of the virus here.
“We are on alert & our preparedness is sturdy,” health secretary Preeti Sudan said.
Health authorities are particularly careful because more than 500 Indian students study in Wuhan – the city at the centre of a new virus outbreak. Most of these students are medical students studying in and around Wuhan city, which is known as Chinas university town.
The situation is likely to be exacerbated as many of these Indian students and other Chinese people are expected to be visiting India during the Chinese New Year week-long holiday, which has already started. This has intensified concerns and prompted authorities in India to be watchful and geared to tackle any sudden transmission.
The health ministry on Friday issued a travel advisory for those travelling from China particularly from Wuhan, asking them to follow precautionary public health measures including avoiding travel to farms, live animal markets or where animals are slaughtered, and refrain from consuming raw or under-cooked meat.
It has also increased the vigil at designated airports.
A total of 43 flights and 9156 passengers have been screened for novel coronavirus illness till Tuesday. Passengers travelling from China are also asked to report to the nearest public health facility in case they feel any symptoms, Sudan said.
“Signages have been put up at prominent locations in these airports for encouraging public about self-reporting of illness. Immigration officers manning the counters have been sensitized at these airports. Close coordination is being maintained with Ministry of Civil Aviation to coordinate the screening effort and dissemination of information to inbound passengers through in-flight announcements,” a health ministry official said.
Sudan said the Centre has also taken measures to gear up health infrastructure and be prepared to tackle any sudden case.
“Series of meetings have been taken to review the evolving scenario, preparedness in terms of disease surveillance, laboratory support infection prevention & control, logistics, risk communication and in particular, hospital preparedness and need for coordination and collaboration with other Ministries,” the ministry said. Sudan has also asked states to review preparedness.
Meanwhile, China has confirmed that the virus can be passed by humans. Chinese authorities have also urged people to stop travelling in and out of Wuhan.
Travel related cases have already been reported from various countries – three cases in Thailand, one in Korea, one in Japan, one in Taiwan and one in the US. On Wednesday, the city of Macau also reported its first confirmed case of the virus. Many countries including Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, the US, Russia and Japan have stepped up screening of air passengers from Wuhan.
Even WHO – which had so far assessed the risk of global spRead More – Source