Union Minister of Health & Family Welfare Harsh Vardhan on Saturday, January 25 said central teams have been sent to conduct thermal screening of Novel Coronavirus (nCoV) at seven designated airports - New Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Kochi.
Although no nCoV cases have been detected in the country so far, the government is reviewing and monitoring the preparedness on a daily basis. According to the Health Ministry, these teams will consist of a public health expert, a clinician and a microbiologist. They are scheduled to reach their respective destination on Sunday.
"They (teams) shall review the end-to-end preparedness for management and control of nCoV in the states, including that at the airports, for thermal screening and transferring of patients to hospitals for isolation, and shall also visit the tertiary hospitals attached to the airports for reviewing the isolation wards and availability of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and masks etc", said the Health Ministry in a statement.
The teams will coordinate with the state health secretaries to explore all avenues to strengthen states' preparedness, and also review the adherence to mandatory guidelines connected with infection control and surveillance.
A 24x7 Call Centre (+91-11-23978046) has been setup to address public queries.
"The call center will also 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.
According to the Union Minister, out of eleven persons under observation, four passengers have been confirmed to be negative for nCoV by the ICMR-NIV Pune lab. He has sought personal intervention from various Chief Ministers to review their respective state preparedness for control and management of nCoV.
"The situation is being closely monitored at the highest level for adequate preparedness. All the officials of my Ministry, concerned departments and States/UTs have been put on high alert for Novel Coronavirus. We are taking all required possible precautions to manage all possible scenarios", said Harsh Vardhan.
Centre closely monitoring passengers from China & Hong Kong
The Centre is also closely monitoring all passengers arriving from China and Hong Kong across the seven international airports. Travel advisory/signages have been extended to 12 more airports in additionally.
"Advisory has also been issued to all States/UTs for Severe Acute Respiratory Infection (SARI) surveillance to pick up any travel-related case reported in the community and follow up contacts of suspect/confirmed cases", added the statement from the ministry. Also, guidelines have been issued for Surveillance and Contact Tracing; Infection Control; Lab Sample Testing and Clinical Care.
The Minister added that National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune is fully geared up to test samples of nCoV along with 10 other laboratories under Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR)'s Viral Research and Diagnostics Laboratories (VRDL) network are also equipped to test such samples, if a need arises.