Millennium Post

Coronavirus cases rise to 28, including 15 Italians

New Delhi: Soon after the positive cases of Coronavirus reached 28 on Wednesday, Union Health minister Harsh Vardhan announced that all international passengers will henceforth be screened at airports for the disease.

In light of the spread of the virus in the country, the Rashtrapati Bhavan has cancelled the "traditional" Holi celebrations as a precautionary measure. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other top BJP leaders, including Union Home minister Amit Shah and party president J P Nadda, have also decided not to attend any Holi Milan function in view of the Coronavirus outbreak.

Out of the 22 new cases, 16 have been reported in Jaipur — 15 Italians and one Indian. The group from Italy was on a holiday, while the Indian was the group's bus driver, said Vardhan. All of them have got the disease from the patient who was confirmed to have contracted the virus earlier.

Another six fresh cases have been confirmed after the New Delhi man visited his family in Agra shortly after arriving from Vienna. A total of 66 people were tested through the ministry's Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP).

Three Coronavirus patients, who were reported in Kerala earlier and have already been discharged, are included in the total 28 positive cases.

The Ministry of Health had earlier identified these six people having a "high viral load." Their confirmation comes after the National Institute of Virology in Pune tested their samples.

The government has now decided to start universal screening for all passengers flying into India from abroad. Earlier, only passengers coming in from China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Singapore, Nepal, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Malaysia were being checked.

Vardhan said at present, 15 laboratories are conducting tests for Coronavirus and 19 more labs are being established. "Seven to eight labs started functioning on Tuesday and the rest will be made operational by Wednesday," he said.

Vardhan also added that the government intends to set up a laboratory in Iran so that Indians there can be tested for possible exposure to Coronavirus before being brought back.

Coming forward to contain the spread of the virus, the Railways Ministry has issued an advisory stating that material with information about Coronavirus should be displayed "prominently" to increase awareness among the public regarding the disease.

"Railway staff would also be trained on prevention of the spread of the virus. If any suspicious case is detected, it should be reported to the Railway Hospital," a statement from the Rail Ministry read.

Higher Education secretary Amit Khare has also asked all the state Chief Secretaries and the CBSE Board to spread awareness about precautionary measures regarding Coronavirus in schools.

On the outbreak, Union Minister Prakash Javadekar said wearing masks was not the only solution. He suggested taking precautions in public places, and doing 'namaskar' while greeting people to avoid the spread of the virus.

One of India's leading digital payment banks Paytm on Wednesday decided to shut its offices in Gurugram and Noida for at least two days after one of its employees who had recently travelled to Italy was tested positive.

In an official statement, the company informed that it has suggested team members of the COVID-19 patient get their health tests done immediately, while all their offices will remain shut for sanitising purposes.

"We have also advised all our colleagues to work from home for a couple of days while we get our offices sanitised," a Paytm spokesperson said. Paytm currently has five offices in Noida and one in Gurugram.

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