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Cabinet Secretary reviews preventive measures on novel coronavirus, evacuation of Indian nationals in Wuhan likely

DNA logo DNA 27-01-2020 (DNA Web Desk)
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Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba on Monday reviewed the situation arising out of novel coronavirus outbreak in China and discussed preventive measures against the disease. 

Secretaries in the ministries of Health, External Affairs, Civil Aviation, Labour, Defence, I&B and Member-Secretary, National Disaster Management Authority, DG (Armed Forces Medical Services) attended the meeting.

It was decided at the meeting that steps "may be taken to prepare for a possible evacuation of Indian nationals in Wuhan." Accordingly, the Ministry of External Affairs will make a request to the Chinese authorities. 

To safely evacuate Indians currently in China, Air India has kept a Boeing 747 jet on standby in the Wuhan city, the epicentre of the disease, earlier reports said.

Ministry of Civil Aviation and Ministry of Health will make arrangements for transport and quarantine facilities respectively, the government said. 

Although no case has been detected in India, some people have been kept under observation in the country following symptoms similar to the novel coronavirus infection that has so far taken 81 lives in China. 

Some of the suspected cases were of those who have returned from China in recent weeks. 

Cabinet Secretary was informed in the meeting that till 137 flights having total of 29707 passengers have been screened till Sunday. 

Besides thermal screening at the major airports, the Ministry of Civil Aviation has also taken various steps as preventive measures. It has issued instructions to airlines for managing and notifying anybody reporting illness on all flights with direct or indirect connectivity to China.

Airlines have also been asked to facilitate in-flight announcements and distribution of health cards to all flights with direct or indirect connectivity to China.

Samples of 12 passengers were referred to National Institute of Virology (NIV) Pune but no positive case has been reported so far.

Since a confirmed case has been reported in Nepal, the Ministry of Home Affairs has taken steps to ensure that integrated check posts initiate screening of visitors across the border.

"States have been requested to provide health staff for these check posts. SSB/ BSF/Immigration officers manning integrated check posts have been sensitized," a government press release said. 

The Health Ministry also held a review meeting earlier on Monday with Chief Secretaries to review the preparedness and screening in 5 states having a border with Nepal. They have been asked to ensure that community level monitoring of passengers is undertaken through health staff.

The Ministry of Shipping will also initiate entry screening at the International ports having traffic from China.

The death toll from the outbreak of novel coronavirus in China rose to 81 on Monday, while the number of confirmed cases has risen to 2,744. Besides China, ten countries have reported cases of 2019-nCoV. 

In India, several people have been put under observation as the disease spreads to other countries. 

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, Singapore, Australia, Malaysia, Thailand, Nepal, USA and France have reported confirmed cases of the virus. 

China, on the other hand, has reported 2,744 confirmed cases with most of them reported from Wuhan. The death toll in China rose to 81 on Monday.

The Chinese government has put several cities on lockdown, has announced an extension of the Lunar New Year holidays and postponed school openings in an attempt to curb the spread of the virus.

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