The government has stepped efforts to prevent a deadly virus spreading rapidly in China from entering India, an official said yesterday.
Health Secretary Preeti Sudan reviewed preparedness of ministries, departments and states to deal with the situation.
Sudan held a video conference with Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), police chiefs of five states neighbouring Nepal, health secretaries of other states and representatives from the Ministry of Shipping.
Earlier, a team led by Sujeet Singh, director of the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) visited the Ram Manohar Lohia hospital in Delhi to review preparedness for potential management the new strain of the virus. The team inspected the isolation wards, reviewed biohazard disposal protocols and assessed availability of personal protective equipment (PPE) masks.
The federal Health Ministry has said that teams have been deployed at the border outposts (BOP) with Nepal at Jhulaghat and Jauljibi in Pithoragarh district in Uttarakhand and Panitanki in West Bengal, an entry point from Nepal.
The ministry has also circulated advisories and signage across international ports and airports in India, including Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai and Kolkata. According to the ministry, a total of 29,707 passengers from 137 flights have been screened so far.
So far, no case of coronavirus has been found in the country. However, one suspected case was reported from Rajasthan after a man was admitted to hospital with complains of cough, cold, fever and rhinitis. His blood samples have been sent to the National Virology Lab in Pune.
Another case, a Chinese national, has been admitted in the state-run Infectious Diseases Hospital here in Kolkata.
She has been kept at the isolation ward.
A state Health Department team examined 28-year-old Hu Mai. Later, director of Health Education, Debsish Bhattacharya said she was stable.
It is learnt that Hu Mai had left China six months back, and visited Namibia, Madagascar and Mauritius before reaching India on January 24.
After she came to Kolkata, the woman felt sick and went to a private health facility, which referred her to the ID Hospital on Sunday.
However, Kolkata Municipal Corporation authorities said the doctors have not seen any symptom of coronavirus in the patient.
“She panicked. Our doctors monitored her condition through the night on Sunday. They examined her yet again today. The doctors say she doesn’t have any classical symptom of coronavirus,” said an official.
The Chinese city of Wuhan, with a population of 11mn, is the epicentre of the outbreak.
The coronavirus has now killed 81 people and infected more than 2,700 across China, with cases found in around a dozen countries as far away as France and the United States.
Many Indian students are stuck in Wuhan. The Health Ministry said it was working closely with the Ministry of External Affairs and was in touch with the students.
However, officials said the government was finding it hard to assess the exact number of Indians stranded in Wuhan.
Though over 500 Indian students were studying in colleges and universities in Wuhan, official sources said, most of them had departed for home before the outbreak of the coronavirus for Chinese new year holidays.
“It is difficult to ascertain because usually not all Indians there would register with the consulate. Nor would they keep the consulate informed if they were moving out,” an official in the ministry of external affairs told IANS.
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