The novel coronavirus situation in the country was under control, the Union Health Secretary said on Friday after a meeting to review preparedness for prevention and management of the deadly infection. Union Health Secretary Preeti Sudan chaired a video-conference meeting with health secretaries from states and Union territories and senior officials from Ministries of Shipping, External Affairs, Civil Aviation and Tourism, according to an official statement.
She said various precautionary measures have been undertaken in close coordination with the ministries concerned at the central level.
"The situation is under control in the country and is being regularly monitored by the Prime Minister's Office, Union Health Minister and Cabinet Secretary... In addition, a Group of Ministers is also reviewing the status," she said.
So far, India has reported three confirmed cases of nCoV, all from Kerala. Three medical students of the Wuhan University, all natives of Kerala, who returned to India on their own recently and self-reported at a hospital in the state tested positive for the respiratory virus, named COVID-19.
One of them has been discharged after recovery.
Besides, around 15,991 people across the country have been kept on community surveillance. Of them, 497 have been identified as symptomatic cases and are being monitored while about 41 have been hospitalised.
During the video-conference meeting on Friday, states were informed that though the number of cases has not increased, the vigil needs to be kept high. They were urged to keep enhancing the awareness among the masses for prevention through personal hygiene, and self-reporting in case of any travel from China and other identified countries, the statement said.
States were also advised to regularly fill the requisite information accurately and in a timely manner on the portal which has been put in place as a special surveillance web tool to monitor the cases on a real-time basis, and to help in national-level monitoring, the statement said.
States such as Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal and Sikkim bordering Nepal were asked to strengthen the disease surveillance.
A high-level Group of Ministers constituted on the directions of the prime minister, held its second meeting to review the current status and actions for prevention and management of the novel coronavirus on Thursday.
Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Thursday said that India has extended support to the Maldives in testing samples and to Bhutan in managing the disease.
"India has also agreed to support Afghanistan in testing samples. India is also extending help to China by sending essential items for combating nCoV as per a commitment made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi as a goodwill gesture," Vardhan said.
Passengers arriving from Thailand and Singapore, besides China and Hong Kong, are being screened for possible exposure to the respiratory virus at 21 identified airports.
The health ministry has asked people to refrain from travelling to China in view of the coronavirus outbreak and said travellers on return could be quarantined. In an updated travel advisory, the health ministry said that the existing visas, including e-visas already issued, are no longer valid for any foreign national travelling from China.
Also, surveillance at Points of Entry (PoE) is continuing at 21 airports, 12 major ports, 65 minor ports and at six land crossings.
Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP) is carrying out community-based surveillance of passengers travelling from China, Singapore, Thailand, South Korea and Japan.