New Delhi: On the directions of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a high level Group of Ministers (GOM) was constituted to review, monitor, and evaluate the preparedness and measures taken regarding management of Novel Coronavirus (renamed by World Health Organization as COVID-19), in the country. While the first meeting was held on 3 February at Nirman Bhawan and the second meeting on 13 Feb, the third meeting was held here today under the chairpersonship of Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Health & Family Welfare. Hardeep S. Puri, Minister of Civil Aviation; Nityananda Rai, Minister of State (MoS) for Home Affairs; Mansukh Mandaviya, Minister of State (I/c), Ministry of Shipping, Chemicals and Fertilisers; and Ashwini Kumar Choubey, Minister of State, Health & Family Welfare, were present.
A presentation of the status of COVID-19 was made to the GOM. The preventive steps and measures taken for management of COVID-19 in India were presented, which included information about the various travel advisories in view of the evolving global situation regarding COVID-19.
Harsh Vardhan addressed media persons later in the day on the evolving scenario and the GOM meeting. The Health Minister Vardhan also shared that universal screening is being done for the travellers from 12 countries for all the flights from China, Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, Malaysia, Nepal, Indonesia, Iran and Italy at the earmarked aero-bridges. He added that passengers are being screened at 21 airports, 12 major seaports, and 65 minor seaports and land crossings particularly bordering Nepal.
So far 5,57,431 passengers have been screened at the airports, and 12,431 at the seaports. Passengers are further monitored under community surveillance through IDSP network on a daily basis. Also, 25,738 passengers are under community surveillance of the IDSP network.
15 labs are functional and 19 more will be made operational soon, Varedhan mentioned. Reagents to test up to 25,000 samples have been made available. Total of 3,245 samples were sent out for testing, of which 3,217 were found negative, 5 samples positive, and 23 are under testing. Out of five positive cases, three earlier patients (in Kerala) are already discharged from the hospital and two new positive cases are found, one in New Delhi and one from Telangana with travel history from Italy and Dubai respectively.
Health Minister Vardhan advised that Indian citizens need to avoid non-essential travel to Singapore, South Korea, Iran, and Italy. People coming from Korea, Iran, and Italy or having such travel history since 10th February may be quarantined for 14 days on arrival to India. “We are monitoring the evolving global scenario. Restrictions may be further extended to other countries, as per the situation,” he added.
Vardhan also shared that 112 people from Wuhan were evacuated and are kept at ITBP camp at Chhawla including citizens from Myanmar (2), Bangladesh (22), Maldives (2), Chinese (6), South African (1), USA (1) and Madagascar (1). The first tests of all was found to be negative. He added that 124 people are brought back from Japan through Air India flight on 27 February, including 5 foreign nationals. They have also tested negative and are kept in the Army Facility at Manesar.
Harsh Vardhan also shared that all Joint Secretaries in the Ministry of Health are assigned to assess the preparedness of states for COVID-19. In addition, more than 3,695 Gram Sabha meetings have been conducted in 21 bordering districts in 5 states (Uttarakhand, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, and Sikkim). As of now 10,24,922 persons have been screened at the Nepal border. He further stated that the personal protection equipment (PPE), N95 masks etc. are available in adequate quantity.
Health Minister Vardhan advised that people need to take precaution and, in case of any symptoms, report to the nearest public health facility or call at the Health Ministry 24×7 Control Room (011) 2397 8046, or email at email@example.com.
The meeting was attended by Preeti Sudan, Secretary (HFW); Pradeep Singh Kharola, Secretary (Civil Aviation); P.D. Vaghela, Secretary (Pharmaceuticals); Ravi Capoor, Secretary (Textiles); Balram Bhargava, Secy (DHR) and DG (ICMR); P. K. Kataria, Spl. Secretary (Textiles); Sanjeeva Kumar, Spl. Secretary (Health); Manoj Bharti, Addl. Secretary (MEA); Amit Yadav, DGFT; Sanjay Bandopadhyay, Addl. Secretary (Shipping); Anil Malik, Addl. Secy (MHA); Anand Swaroop, Inspector General (ITBP); and Lav Agarwal, JS (MoHFW); along with other officials from the Army, ITBP, Pharma, and Textiles.
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