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Coronavirus scare: Govt reviews preparedness; it's time to brace for challenges, say experts

Doctors say containing effects of the viral outbreak will increasingly be a challenge as more people travel around the world, and that mortality in such cases is high among elderly and immunocompromised individuals

twitter-logo E Kumar Sharma   New Delhi     Last Updated: February 5, 2020  | 17:56 IST
Coronavirus scare: Govt reviews preparedness; it's time to brace for challenges, say experts
In all, 3,935 passengers are under surveillance for coronavirus across India

While the government is keeping an eye on states' preparedness to deal with coronavirus, Kerala seems to be the best placed among all to handle the situation, say health experts. The state has a greater concentration of hospitals and medical and paramedical staff than others. However, given the general infrastructure in government hospitals and the availability of specialists, it's time to brace for challenges, say health experts.

Doctors say containing the virus will a challenge as more people travel around the world. Of all coronavirus patients, mortality is high among elderly and immunocompromised individuals. The problem typically gets challenging when an infected person develops pneumonia. Health apparatus of states should have specialists and equipment in place, including anaesthesiologists (there are around 40,000 in India right now), intensivists, trained nurses, syringe pumps and blood gas analysers.

Preeti Sudan, Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, chaired a video conference with health secretaries and officials from various states/union territories (UTs) on Tuesday to review the novel coronavirus preparedness. She said "various precautionary measures have been undertaken in close coordination with the concerned ministries at the central level", and that the "situation is being closely and regularly monitored by PMO, Union Minister of Health & Family Welfare and Cabinet Secretary".

Also read: Kerala uses Nipah experience to effectively control Coronavirus spread

A note issued by her office quoted her as saying that "as many as 777 flights and 89,500 passengers have been screened so far at 21 Airports." About 454 samples have been tested in India so far, of which 451 have been reported negative and three positive. In all, 3,935 passengers are presently under community surveillance across 29 states/UTs.

During the meeting, the Ministry of Tourism officials stated: "they are coordinating with the hotels association for wider self-reporting by travellers visiting religious and other tourist places in states."

Also read: Coronavirus scare: Hospitals get cautious and ready

She also reviewed preparedness in terms of the orientation of health and other agencies, including adherence to prevention and management protocols, and awareness regarding prevention of coronavirus among people being screened and those transiting the border with Nepal.

She said to meet with increasing demand for additional manpower to undertake screening at airports, states should provide required health workforce and other logistical support.

Special awareness drives across toll plazas, bus stations and railway stations are being carried in states with no airports or seaports, such as Haryana.

Kerala, which has reported three positive cases of coronavirus, highlighted the monitoring and surveillance being carried out across all administrative units.

Also Read: Coronavirus update: India temporarily suspends e-visa facility for Chinese citizens, foreigners in china

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