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Coronavirus: India ramps up airport screening measures as total cases now stand at 31

Coronavirus: India ramps up airport screening measures as total cases now stand at 31

India on Friday stepped up screening measures for international passengers as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in India jumped to 31 after a Delhi man with travel history to Thailand and Malaysia tested positive for COVID-19, health ministry officials said.

"The patient is from Delhi. He has a travel history to Thailand and Malaysia. He is stable and being monitored," a health ministry official said in a press statement.

All international passengers irrespective of their nationality are mandated to undergo a universal medical screening, as per the latest advisory. Adequate screening measures have been put in place and nine more airports have been added to the existing 21, bringing the total number to 30 airports where screening of passengers is being carried out.

Meanwhile, India said it was fully prepared to bring back the Indians stranded in Iran, which has been scrambling to contain the rapid spread of the virus where at least 107 people have been killed.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 94,900 confirmed COVID-19 cases and at least 3,272 deaths have been reported globally.

According to officials, the government is in discussions with Iranian authorities and a ferry flight, carrying around 300 swabs of Indians suspected of having coronavirus infection, from Tehran is to land in the national capital on Friday. The flight, to be operated by Iran's Mahan Air, would not have any passengers and Iranians in India would be taken back in the return flight.

There are around 2,000 Indians in Iran, one of the countries which has been severely affected by the coronavirus outbreak. After 17 new deaths were reported today, the death toll in Iran has now climbed to 124.

"The government is in talks with the Iranian government to bring back the Indians. We are fully geared up to screen passengers and also follow up cases, amid coronavirus outbreak," Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri told reporters.

A total of 13 Italian tourists were kept in isolation overnight at their hotel in Amritsar by the health department to check for coronavirus symptoms, an official told news agency PTI. The tourists were asked not to leave their hotel rooms after they checked in on Thursday night. However, they showed no symptoms of the virus in the medical check-up done on Friday and were allowed to leave for Delhi, Amritsar Sub Divisional Magistrate Vikas Hira told the news agency.

Assam remained on alert after a US citizen who had travelled to the state earlier this month has been tested positive for the infection in Bhutan. On Friday, a statement from Bhutan's Prime Minister's Office confirmed the kingdom's first positive case. The statement confirmed that the 76-year-old US national had flown in to Paro from Guwahati, Assam through a Drukair flight on March 2.

"We found out about this earlier today — we are currently tracing all those people the patient might have come in contact with and all the place he visited while in Assam," said Pijush Hazarika, Assam minister of state (MoS) for Health. "We have taken extra steps to sanitize the entire Guwahati Airport this morning.

According to a tweet by a Bhutan-based journalist, the patient "undertook a seven-day Brahmaputra river cruise."

Hazarika confirmed that 107 people have been quarantined in Assam so far. "Seven out of 107 had shown symptoms of fever but all of them have tested negative." He also said that that Control rooms could be reached out to at the following numbers: 0361-6913347770, 0361-6913347771, 0361-6913347772 and 0361-6913347773.

In a press release, Tripura Health Department said no one has been found infected with coronavirus in the state. The government has said one person among those who travelled to affected countries has been put under preventive observation. The government has also appealed people not to panic. Meanwhile, a source inside the state-run Agartala Government Medical College said the person put under preventive observation is recovering and most likely suffered from seasonal flu and not coronavirus.

More than a lakh people including the visitors from abroad were screened at the Chennai International Airport and 1,654 suspected cases were closely monitored for 28 days, said Tamil Nadu Health Minister C Vijayabaskar, adding that there has been no positive case of the Coronavirus in Tamil Nadu.

After making a visit to the Chennai International airport on Friday to inspect the safety protocols, Vijayabaskar said they have taken throat and blood samples of 54 people and the results were negative. "We have strengthened the airport screening. Alongside the thermal screening, other equipment like hand-sanitizer, and latest technology like air-sanitizer have been set up at the airport. Per day 52-58 flights reach the Chennai airport and approximately 8,500 passengers land up at the arrival alone. Since the virus is having an impact on our nearby countries like Italy, Iran, South Korea, Japan, etc., we are screening all the International passengers irrespective of their nationalities and origins," he said while speaking to the reporters.

The Karnataka health department on Friday conducted meetings with mall operators in Bengaluru to take preventative measures in the wake of coronavirus.

Speaking to reporters, Karnataka Minister for Medical Education Dr K Sudhakar said, "since many people gather in the malls during weekends, we have conducted meetings with the mall owners and operators and directed them to take preventative measures like giving sanitizers to workers and avoiding huge gatherings in the malls."

The health department officials have also conducted meetings with club associations of Bengaluru regarding precautions and support in awareness on Coronavirus.

As per the latest bulletin by the Karnataka Health department, 717 people have been identified for observation, of them 236 persons have completed 28 days of observation and 469 persons are continuing under home quarantine. These include persons who have travelled to COVID-19 affected countries and contacts of COVID-19 positive cases. Till Friday evening, eight people are admitted in selected isolation Hospitals in Karnataka. A total of 343 Samples of symptomatic persons have been sent for testing and 296 samples are reported as negative.

(INputs from indianexpress.com and image from orissapost.com)

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