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New Delhi, March 3, 2020
Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan has advised Indians to avoid non-essential travel to Singapore, Korea, Iran and Italy in view of the continuing spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) across many countries in the world.
People coming from Korea, Iran and Italy or having such travel history since February 10 may be quarantined for 14 days on arrival in India, he said at a press conference here on Monday after a meeting of the Group of Ministers set up by the Government to tackle the situation arising out of the outbreak of COVID-19 in China, where it has caused more than 2940 deaths, and its subsequent spread to several countries.
Earlier in the day, the Ministry had said that two more positive cases of coronavirus had been confirmed in India -- one in Delhi with a travel history to Italy and the other in Telangana, who had travelled from Dubai and reached Hyderabad after spending a couple of days in his company's office in Bengaluru.
“We are monitoring the evolving global scenario. Restrictions may be further extended to other countries, as per the situation," he added.
The Minister said universal screening for novel coronavirus COVID-19 was being done for travellers from 12 countries.
He said specific aero-bridges have been earmarked for passengers of all the flights from China, Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, Malaysia, Nepal, Indonesia, Iran and Italy.
The passengers are being screened at 21 airports, 12 major seaports and 65 minor seaports and land crossings particularly bordering Nepal.
So far, a total of 5, 57,431 passengers have been screened at the airports, and 12,431 at the seaports. Passengers were further monitored under community surveillance through IDSP network on a daily basis.
Also, 25,738 passengers were under community surveillance of the IDSP network. 15 labs are functional and 19 more will be made operational soon. Reagents to test up to 25,000 samples have been made available.
Of a total of 3245 samples sent out for testing, 3217 were found negative, 5 positive and 23 were still under testing. Out of five positive cases, three earlier patients (in Kerala) have already been discharged from the hospital.
He said 112 people inclusive of nationals from Myanmar (2), Bangladesh (22), Maldives (2), Chinese (6), South African (1), USA (1) and Madagascar (1) from Wuhan were evacuated and were at ITBP camp at Chhawla. The first test found all of them to be negative for the virus. An Air India flight brought back 124 from Japan on February 27, including five foreign nationals. They have also tested negative and were in the Army Facility at Manesar.
Harsh Vardhan said all Joint Secretaries in the Ministry of Health were assigned to assess the preparedness of States for COVID-19. In addition, more than 3695 Gram Sabha meetings have been conducted in 21 border districts in five States (Uttarakhand, Bihar, UP, West Bengal and Sikkim). As of now 10, 24,922 persons have been screened at the Nepal border. Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), N95 masks, and so on were available in adequate quantity.
The Minister advised that people need to take precautions and in case of any symptoms report to the nearest public health facility or call at the Health Ministry 24x7 Control Room 011-23978046 or email at email@example.com.
Earlier, the third meeting of the High-level Group of Ministers (GOM), constituted to review, monitor and evaluate the preparedness and measures taken regarding management of Novel Coronavirus (renamed by the World Health Organization as COVID-19) was held under the chairmanship of Harsh Vardhan.
Present at the meeting were GoM Members Hardeep S Puri, Minister of Civil Aviation, Nityananda Rai, Minister of State for Home, Mansukh Mandaviya, Minister of State (I/c), Ministry of Shipping, Chemicals and Fertilisers and Ashwini Kumar Choubey, Minister of State, Health & Family Welfare.
A presentation on the status of the COVID-19 was made to the GOM. The preventive steps and measures taken for the management of COVID-19disease in India were presented, which included information about the various travel advisories in view of the evolving global situation regarding COVID-19.