People wearing masks as a precautionary measure against the novel coronavirus outbreak; at Chennai International Airport on February 1, 2020.
People wearing masks as a precautionary measure against the novel coronavirus outbreak; at Chennai International Airport on February 1, 2020. IANS

Health Secretary reviews preparedness of States on novel coronavirus

New Delhi, February 4, 2020

Union Health Secretary Preeti Sudan held a video conference with Health Secretaries of States and Union Territories (UTs) to review their preparedness for prevention and management of the novel coronavirus (nCoV) here today.

Senior officials from the Ministry of Shipping, Ministry of External Affairs, Ministry of Civil Aviation, Ministry of Tourism and Ministry of Home Affairs also participated in the video conference.

Sudan said that various precautionary measures have been undertaken in close coordination with the concerned Ministries at the central level. She also said that the situation is being closely and regularly monitored by the Prime Minister's Office (PMO), the Union Minister of Health & Family Welfare and theCabinet Secretary on a daily basis regarding the updates, status of preparedness and action taken so far.

She reiterated the new visa restrictions and advisories issued in view of the emerging scenario globally. She asked states to create awareness regarding these.

Sudan stressed that the States and UTs need to be more vigilant. She reviewed the preparedness of all the States and UTs in terms of orientation of health and other agencies; adherence of various prevention & management protocols; awareness regarding prevention of novel coronavirus among the people being screened and those transiting the border with Nepal; self-reporting by these people; isolation wards; protective gear; and so on.

She asked the states to take necessary steps for contact tracing and adequate surveillance management. She also said that, in order to meet the increasing demand of additional manpower to undertake screening at airports, States should provide required health workforce and other logistic supports to APHOs.

The States bordering Nepal have informed the Centre that they are taking necessary measures and following up on the guidelines issued by the Government on screening and management. States that do not have airports or seaports, such as Haryana, reported that special awareness drives at toll plazas, bus stations and railway stations are also being initiated.

Kerala, which has reported three positive cases, all of students from Wuhan, China highlighted the close monitoring and surveillance being carried out by it across all administrative units in the state. District Collectors are included in review and monitoring of the situation. Community engagement through focussed awareness is a key component.

The Union Health Secretary said that earmarked aero bridges would be used at seven international airports (Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Cochin, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Chennai) at the dedicated gates to screen passengers from China, Singapore, Thailand & Hong Kong for nCoV so as to ensure effective prevention.

The Ministry of Tourism stated that it is coordinating with the Hotels Association for wider self-reporting by travellers visiting religious and other tourist places in states.

Sudhan informed that screening of passengers is now on in all 21 airports, international seaports and border crossings. She also stated that 777 flights and 89500 passengers were screened so far at 21 airports. As many as 454 samples were tested out of which 451 were found negative and three were found positive.

A total of 3935 passengers are presently under community surveillance in 29 States/UTs. She said that containment and prevention activities shall be taken up on utmost priority. All the states need to strengthen their rapid response teams to counter any eventuality. Also there needs to be role clarity and robust administrative structures in place in all districts, she added.


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