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As virus stalks China, India issues advisory | India News


NEW DELHI: India has issued a travel advisory for those visiting China and stepped up surveillance at airports in the wake of an outbreak of coronavirus in China.

Following reports of 41 confirmed cases of novel coronavirus (nCoV), including one death in Wuhan in China this month, health ministry has instructed screening of travellers from the neighbouring country at Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata airports using thermal scanners.

It has also advised people travelling to and from China to follow precautionary public health measures including avoiding travel to farms, live animal markets or where animals are slaughtered, and refrain from consuming raw or under-cooked meat.

Coronavirus is a large family of viruses, which causes illnesses ranging from common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). They also circulate in animals including camels, cats and bats. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can also evolve and infect people, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The advisory issued by the government stated that even though the mode of transmission of the novel coronavirus is unclear as of now and as per WHO’s assessment the risk of global spread is low, travellers to China are advised to take precaution and monitor their health closely. So far, only travel related cases of coronavirus have been reported (one each) in Thailand and Japan.

The WHO on Thursday stated that not enough is known about the novel coronavirus to draw definitive conclusions about how it is transmitted, clinical features of the disease, or the extent to which it has spread.

Health secretary Preeti Sudan said the situation is being monitored in consultation with WHO. “The public health preparedness is being reviewed on day-to-day basis and the core capacities to timely detect and manage importation of the nCoV into the country are being strengthened further,” Sudan said.

The ministry has also issued necessary directions to all those concerned on laboratory diagnosis, surveillance, infection prevention and control and risk communication. Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme has been geared up for community surveillance and contact tracing.

The National Institute Of Virology, Pune, and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) laboratory are coordinating testing of samples for the novel coronavirus (nCoV) in the country.

Hospital preparedness with regard to management and infection prevention control facilities has also been reviewed during high-level meetings. Advisories and infection prevention and control guidelines have been shared with the states, the ministry said.

According to WHO, the situation is still evolving and preliminary investigations suggest link to the sea-food market.

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