New Delhi: Seven more people who returned from China have been kept under observation at health facilities in Kerala following screening for a possible exposure to novel coronavirus (nCoV) even though no positive case has been detected in the country so far, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said on Saturday.
Samples of these seven passengers have been sent to the ICMR-NIV Pune lab. Samples of four other passengers tested earlier have been confirmed to be negative for nCoV by the lab. Under directions from Vardhan, a 24×7 NCDC Call Centre (+91-11-23978046) has been made operational, said the Union Health Ministry on Saturday.
“The Call Centre will monitor the list of contacts furnished by Ministry of External Affairs; provide details of district and state surveillance officers to those who seek them; and in case of any clinical query, direct the concerned to the relevant Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP) officer,” said the health ministry.
The Union Health Minister has directed for multidisciplinary central teams to be sent to the seven states where thermal screening is being done at the seven designated airports — New Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Kochi. Each central team will consist of a public health expert, a clinician and a microbiologist.
These teams would reach the respective states on Sunday. Vardhan, who held a review meeting to analyse the preparedness for prevention and management of nCoV in India, also spoke to the Chief Minister of Uttarakhand on Saturday and assured him of all support for screening at the border with Nepal, where a confirmed case has been reported.
Eleven people — seven in Kerala, two in Mumbai and one each in Bengaluru and Hyderabad — who are among hundreds of passengers who returned from China in the recent days were kept under observation in hospitals to check for possible exposure to the deadly nCoV, central and state officials had said on Friday.
Vardhan said that he is also writing to all Chief Ministers requesting for their personal intervention to review the states’ preparedness for control and management of nCoV.
The Union Health Minister has urged the passengers who have a travel history to China since January 1, 2020, to come forward for self-reporting to the nearest health facility if they experience any symptoms such as fever, cough, respiratory distress, etc., and also inform their treating doctor.
On Friday, the Union Health Ministry also issued a fresh advisory asking the passengers to follow certain dos and don’ts if they are in China or if they are travelling or returning from China.
The advisory stated that during their stay in China, if they feel sick and have fever and cough, then they should cover their mouth while coughing and sneezing, seek medical attention promptly and report to the Indian Embassy in China.
The advisory also said that if they feel sick on flight, while travelling back to India from China, they should inform the airline crew about their illness, seek mask and self-reporting format from the airline crew, avoid close contact with family members or fellow travellers and follow other directions of crew and airport health officer.
As on January 25, 2020, a total of 1,287 cases and 41 deaths were reported in 29 provinces of China due to nCoV. According to the health ministry’s advisory on Saturday, 28 cases have been confirmed outside Chinese mainland – 5 in Hong Kong, 2 in Macao, 3 in Taiwan, 4 in Thailand, 2 in Japan, 2 in South Korea, 2 in United States, 2 in Vietnam, 3 in Singapore, 1 in Nepal and 1 in France.