Cases climb to 30, additional visa restrictions imposed
New Delhi: Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan confirmed on Thursday that at least 30 positive cases of Coronavirus have been found positive in India so far, including 16 Italian tourists.
As the concerns over the novel Coronavirus rise, the ministry of Health and Family Welfare has asked the state governments to ramp up the formation of rapid response teams which will be deployed at the village, district and block levels.
As a precautionary measure, the India-EU summit which was slated to be held later this month has now been rescheduled because of the outbreak.
India and EU have decided to reschedule Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Brussels in view of the advice by the health authorities in the wake of the Coronavirus outbreak, said MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar.
Besides this, several steps have been taken by the Health Ministry to confine the viral disease. Many officials have been asked to set up detention centres at all entry-points in the country as well as railway stations and airports. Also, apart from creating isolation and quarantine facilities, the government has advised proper surveillance of those who are under home quarantine.
Informing Parliament about the crisis, Vardhan said: "We have taken various measures to deal with the deadly disease. Regular review meetings with various ministry officials and secretaries are taking place. Health Ministry and the Prime Minister's Office are directly monitoring the situation."
The Union minister further added: "India has initiated required preparedness and action since January 17, much before the advice of the World Health Organisation (WHO). Universal screening for all international passengers will now be conducted."
The Health Ministry has also imposed additional visa restrictions on people travelling from or having visited Italy and South Korea, making it mandatory for them to submit certificates of having tested negative for COVID-19 from laboratories authorised by the health authorities of their countries.
This will come into effect from 0000 hours on March 10 and is a temporary measure till cases of novel Coronavirus subside, the Health Ministry said in a travel advisory.
In a related development, about 16,076 crew and passengers on board ships from China or having travel histories to the affected countries have not been allowed to disembark at Indian ports.
Given the widespread COVID-19, India Trade Promotion Council of India (ITPO) has asked visitors who have recently travelled to any of the affected regions or countries to refrain from visiting ongoing Aahar exhibition at Pragati Maidan in the larger public interest.
Continuing the precautionary measures at Rashtrapati Bhavan in view of COVID-19, the Mughal Gardens will be closed for public from Saturday to avoid any large gathering of people.
The total number of positive cases of COVID-19 are now30, which includes the previous three cases from Kerala, who have now been discharged. Also, there are three from Delhi and NCR (two with travel history from Italy and one of Iran); six contacts of the first Delhi case with travel history to Italy; one from Telangana with history of Dubai travel and Singapore contact; 16 Italians and one driver (Indian) who was with the Italian tourist group.
The earlier two suspected cases of Telangana have tested negative at NIV, Pune. Also, the 14 Italian cases and all the Indian patients are stable and being monitored.
A total of 6,49,452 passengers have been screened at the airports till date from 6,550 flights. In addition, 29,607 persons are under the IDSP community surveillance and contact tracing.
Meanwhile, the General Insurance Council, the apex industry lobby of the 44-member strong non-life insurers, on Thursday said almost all health insurance policies cover epidemics, including Coronavirus.
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