Novel coronavirus outbreak: To ensure all round safety, the Health ministry has written to the Civil Aviation ministry to allow thermal screening of passengers arriving from China including Hong Kong at international airports situated in Bengaluru, Chennai, Cochin, Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Mumbai. Thermal screening at international airports will be initiated today according to the official press release. This request was made in keeping with the guidelines issued by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
The guidelines expressly state that the airlines departing from China and landing in India have to manage and notify anyone reporting illness on flights. The aviation ministry also instructed the airlines to issue in-flight announcements regarding the same.
Apart from these measures, the Airport Health Organizations at Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai have instilled signages informing about the self reporting of the illness at prominent spots. Hospitals located near these international airports have also been reviewed for isolation and critical care facilities.
Apart from issuing guidelines on the measures to be taken by the airlines, the Health Ministry also asked Ministry of External Affairs to provide information on travelers coming from Wuhan city and also on those who have sought visa from December 31, 2019. The MEA has been asked to counsel visa applicants while issuing visas. Apart from these measures, the Health ministry has also requested the Foreign Affairs ministry to disseminate travel advisories across Indian embassies located in China and neighboring countries.
Passengers who report symptoms such as shortness of breath, fever and cough are advised to fill up the 'Self Reporting Form' before landing. In order to ensure wider dissemination, the travel advisory has also been issued on the official Twitter handle of PIB.
Thermal Screening of passengers arriving from #China including #HongKong expanded to Seven airports now— PIB India (@PIB_India) January 21, 2020
Passengers to fill up ‘Self Reporting Form’ before disembarkationhttps://t.co/ojKHwtPvig#coronaviruspic.twitter.com/3TzlH4SmNG
The Secretary of the Health and Family welfare ministry held a review meeting on Monday in order to discuss the rising number of coronavirus cases reported from China and also the urgency to step up measures undertaken to safeguard public health. However, the World Health Organization accessed the risk of the global spread of coronavirus as being low.
On the domestic front, the Health secretary has also written to States and UTs to review their preparedness to prevent and control coronavirus and also to plug any gaps in areas such as surveillance, laboratory support infection prevention and control, logistics, risk communication. The main area that was emphasized was the preparedness of hospitals in areas of isolation and ventilator management of critical patients of severe acute respiratory illnesses.
According to official sources, the National Institute of Virology in Pune is prepared for testing nCoV samples. If the situation demands, 10 more labs that come under the IMCR's Viral Research and Diagnostics Laboratories network are amply prepared to test these samples. In order to ensure the safety of the health workers, adequate stock of Personal Protection Equipment is being maintained.