New Delhi: On the directions of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a high level Group of Ministers was constituted to review, monitor, and evaluate the preparedness and measures taken regarding the management of Novel Coronavirus (previously named nCoV 2019, then renamed by the World Health Organization as COVID-19) in the country. While the first meeting was held on 3 February at Nirman Bhawan under the chairpersonship of Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Health & Family Welfare, the second meeting of the group was held here today. It was chaired by Harsh Vardhan, along with Hardeep S. Puri, Minister of Civil Aviation; Dr. S Jaishankar, External Affairs Minister; Nityananda Rai, Minister of State for Home; Mansukh Mandaviya, Minister of State (MoS), Ministry of Shipping, Chemicals and Fertilisers; and Ashwini Kumar Choubey, Minister of State, Health & Family Welfare.
A presentation of the status of COVID-19 was made to the group. The members were also apprised of the current status of the three cases reported positive from Kerala. The preventive steps and measures taken for management of the coronavirus in India were presented, which included information about the travel advisories regarding the temporary suspension of visas for all travellers from China.
The group of ministers was also informed about the two quarantine centres holding 645 persons evacuated from Wuhan. The camps are being maintained by Armed Forces and ITBP. All inhabitants are medically examined on a daily basis. The group was apprised that all the evacuees have tested negative for the coronavirus.
In addition, the group was also briefed that, as of today, a total of 2,315 flights have been screened covering a total of 2,49,447 passengers. Screening of passengers is ongoing in 21 airports, international seaports, and border crossings, particularly with Nepal. Universal screening in all flights from Japan and South Korea, besides China, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Thailand have been included.
15,991 people are presently under community surveillance in 34 States & UTs. Yesterday, the surveillance count for the coronavirus stood at 11,527, meaning that a total of 4,394 more people have been added to the surveillance list.
Out of a total of 1,671 samples sent for testing, only the 3 from Kerala were found positive as reported earlier. The ICMR’s National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune, has been made a nodal centre for coordinating diagnostics for the coronavirus. 14 regional labs have also been activated and standardized, and are testing the samples.
The group of ministers was also apprised that adequate materials like Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) and N95 masks are available and the situation is closely monitored in all States & UTs. The preparedness and actions are being reviewed at the highest level everyday by the Union Health Minister and the Cabinet Secretary, in addition to Secretary (HFW).
A 24×7 Control Room is operational and can be reached over phone at (011) 2397 8046. IEC material is prepared and widely disseminated through various channels of print, electronic, and social media. Daily press briefings by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare are being undertaken to update the public.
The meeting was attended by Preeti Sudan, Secretary (HFW); H. Vardhan Shringla, Foreign Secretary; Pradeep Singh Kharola, Secretary (Civil Aviation); Sanjeeva Kumar, Spl. Secretary (Health); Amit Yadav, DGFT; Sanjay Bandopadhyay, Addl. Secretary (Shipping); Anil Malik, Addl. Secy (MHA); and Lav Agarwal, JS (MoHFW); while other officials from the Indian Army, ITBP, pharma, and textiles were present.