Coronavirus: 29,607 people under observation as of March 5, Health Minister tells Lok Sabha
New Delhi, March 6 (PTI): A total of 29,607 people are under observation of Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP) network for novel coronavirus as on March 5, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan informed the Lok Sabha on Friday.
He also said 654 people were brought from Wuhan in China on February 1 and 2, and kept in quarantine at Army Camp in Haryana’s Manesar and Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) Camp at Chhawla in Delhi for 14 days.
These evacuees were tested twice and reported negative for COVID-19 and were discharged on February 17 and 18, Vardhan told the House, responding to a query raised by Rahul Gandhi along with two other MPs.
On February 27, a total of 112 people, which included 76 Indians and 36 foreign nationals, were evacuated from Wuhan and kept in mandatory 14-day quarantine at the Army Camp in Manesar, the health minister said.
Besides, 124 people, which included 119 Indians and five foreign nationals, have been evacuated from Japan and kept in mandatory 14-day quarantine at the ITBP camp in Chhawla).
“All these 236 passengers have been tested and reported negative for COVID-19,” Vardhan said.
He further said the government had mounted a relief assistance flight to Wuhan on February 26 with an Indian Air Force C-17 Globemaster aircraft, which carried over 15 tonnes of medical assistance comprising masks, gloves and other emergency medical equipment for Chinese healthcare professionals.
As on March 4, a total of 6,241 flights have been screened covering 6,11,167 passengers, he said.
Specialist doctors were sent to all airports to ensure effective screening and arrangement for isolation in attached hospitals. Besides this, screening has been initiated at border crossings, he said.
Vardhan said all regular and e-visas issued to Italian, Iranian, South Korean and Japanese nationals on or before March 3 and who have not yet entered India, stand suspended with immediate effect.
The Union health minister said regular and e-Visas issued to all other foreign nationals who have travelled to China, Iran, Italy, South Korea and Japan, on or after February 1 and who have not yet entered India, stand suspended with immediate effect.
Govt warns of stringent action against hoarding of masks, hand sanitisers
The Centre on Friday warned of stringent action against hoarding and black-marketing of face masks and hand sanitisers amid rising demand due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Union Minister for Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals D V Sadananda Gowda said although the government does not have the latest update on supply-demand of these products, the real assessment of availability will be made.
“While the industry players are saying there is no shortage of face masks and hand sanitisers in the country, but our department will assess the availability and accordingly take further action,” Gowda told reporters.
The government has not received any reports of shortage or increase in prices of these products as of now. However, the concerned authority has been directed to keep a close watch on this and take stringent action against black marketers and hoarders, he said.
Health Ministry urges to avoid mass gathering
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has asked the states and union territories to reduce mass gatherings in order to avoid spread of novel coronavirus.
In a memorandum, released by the Health Ministry in response to query from states, it said that “experts across the world have advised to reduce mass gatherings to avoid the spread of COVID-19 novel coronavirus disease. In this view, it is advised that mass gatherings may be avoided or possibly be postponed till the disease spread is contained.”
The memorandum was released on Thursday.
The ministry further stated that in case any such mass gatherings were organised, “the states may take necessary action to guide the organisers on precautions to be taken as per the risk communication material already sent so as to avoid any Severe Acute Respiratory Illness (SARI) cases and influenza like illness (ILIs) including COVID-19”.
So far India has reported 31 confirmed cases, of which the previous three patients from Kerala have recovered. The patients include Italians and Indian nationals.