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Coronavirus: India extends travel advisory to 12 more airports

The Health Ministry extended its travel advisory to 12 more airports in addition to the current seven on Friday, with the World Health Organisation (WHO) confirming that 830 cases of coronavirus infection have been reported from China, along with 25 deaths, as on Thursday.

A senior official said the Ministry was in touch with the WHO “for co-ordinated effort to tackle the novel virus and dynamic situation”.

Two persons who returned from China have been kept under observation at a Mumbai hospital. As many as 1,789 passengers underwent thermal screening at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport till January 19, while 262 passengers were screened in Hyderabad.

During the screening at the Mumbai airport, six passengers — three each from Pune and Mumbai — underwent further examination. “Four of them were found to be all right. As a precaution, two others who were suffering from a minor cold and cough have been kept under monitoring,” said officials.

The National Institute of Virology, Pune, has said the four samples (two from Mumbai and one each from Bengaluru and Hyderabad) have tested negative. One of the Mumbai patients has tested positive for Rhinovirus, a routine common cold virus.

Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Coimbatore, Guwahati, Gaya, Bagdogra, Jaipur, Lucknow, Trivandrum, Tiruchi, Varanasi and Visakhapatnam are the 12 airports where advisory will be displayed, the Ministry said.

In Kerala, Aditional Director of Health Services (Public Health) V. Meenakshy said, “We have identified 80 persons across the State — mostly medical students and nurses — with a recent travel history to China. Among them, seven persons who displayed mild influenza-like symptoms have been isolated in various medical colleges as part of the general precautionary measures. The rest have been advised home quarantine, and to alert the local health administration in the event of any symptom like fever. We will be following them up.”

The WHO has maintained that the Novel Coronavirus (nCoV) spread was not a global health emergency, but is an emergency in China. “In India, we have increased our preparedness, and till Friday, no cases have been detected,” said a senior health official.

Across India as on January 24, 20,844 passengers from 96 flights have been screened, and on Friday 4082 passengers of 19 flights were screened.

“No nCoV case has been detected in the country so far. National Institute of Virology, Pune, is fully geared up to test samples. Ten laboratories under the Indian Council of Medical Research’s Viral Research and Diagnostics Laboratories network are also equipped to test such samples…,” said a release from the Ministry on Friday.

The Health official said people returning from China under observation in Mumbai have not tested positive for coronavirus. “We advise against spreading panic. Furthermore, the Indian nurse in Saudi has a different strain of the coronavirus and is under treatment,” he said.

The Indian Embassy in Beijing said on Friday, “It is in touch with Chinese authorities in Beijing and Wuhan, as well as Indians in Hubei Province, especially in Wuhan.” “The relevant Chinese authorities have assured all assistance to residents of Wuhan, including food supply. At present, it is reported that supermarkets (particularly those that are government-run) and e-commerce services, including food delivery, continue to remain operational in Wuhan,” it said.

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