Hyderabad: Ministry of Health, Medical and Family Welfare on Wednesday widened its screening measures against the novel Coronavirus (nCoV) by directing authorities in Hyderabad to keep an eye on passengers who arrive at Rajiv Gandhi International Airport from mainland China and provide them with medical assistance in case they display symptoms of Coronavirus.
Earlier, when the first Coronavirus case was reported in China on January 11, health authorities had launched thermal scanning of passengers at international airports in Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata. Nearly 9,000 passengers in these three airports were screened and till now no case has been tested positive.
However, with one case of Coronavirus being reported in the United States, the Ministry on Wednesday decided to widen the scope of screening and asked authorities in Hyderabad, Chennai, Bengaluru and Cochin to start screening passengers coming from mainland China.
The Ministry has also issued instructions to health officials in Hyderabad to put up signage at prominent locations in the airports to encourage passengers about self-reporting of their illness.
The immigration officials manning the counters have been sensitised on dealing with passengers arriving from China. The local health officials here said they are working in close coordination with the Ministries of Health and Civil Aviation to coordinate the screening efforts and also provide adequate information, including inflight announcements.
On Wednesday, Secretary, Health and Family Welfare, Dr Preeti Sudan took to Twitter and said the Ministry is constantly reviewing the evolving scenario by working closely with different departments. The Health Ministry has also reached out to the State health officials to review the preparations in Telangana.
“We are reviewing preparedness, identifying gaps if any, and also addressing measures needed to strengthen laboratory support, logistics, detect and response to possible outbreaks,” senior health officials here said. Senior surveillance officials from Hyderabad said the Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP), New Delhi has also issued advisory to all States to pick up any travel related case reported in the community and follow-up contacts of suspects or confirmed cases.
The local health officials have been directed to send samples of patients to National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune for testing of samples of nCoV.
MOHFW issues advisory
The Ministry of Health, Medical and Family Welfare on Wednesday issued a travel advisory for those visiting or returning from China. ‘Although as per World Health Organisation’s assessment, the risk of global spread is low, as a matter of precaution travellers to China are advised to be cautious,” MOHFW said in its advisory.
The mode of transmission is unclear as of now and there is little evidence of significant human-to-human transmission. The clinical signs and symptoms are mainly fever with a few patients having difficulty in breathing, it said. All travellers to China, especially to Wuhan city must monitor their health closely, observe personal hygiene, follow respiratory etiquettes, avoid contact with animals and consumption of raw or uncooked meat, avoid traveling to farms, live animal markets etc. Travellers must avoid travel plans in case they are sick and seek medical attention at the earliest.