Coronavirus: Passengers from China to be screened at Indian airports, advisory issued

Second death in China; second case in Thailand reported

By DTE Staff
Published: Friday 17 January 2020

The Union Ministry of health and family welfare has advised that Indians, if sick, should not visit China —  especially Wuhan, a city where two persons have succumbed to the a new strain of coronavirus.

Fit travellors there should avoid close contact with people who are unwell; they should avoid contact with live animals and consumption of raw/undercooked meats there; travel to farms and live animals should also be avoided, the ministry advised. The January 17, 2020 advisory included several other precautionary steps suggested by World Health Organisation.

Passengers from China disembarking at airports in Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata will be screened through thermal scanners, the ministry said. Immigration officers have been sensitised accordingly by the Union ministry of external affairs. 

Pune-based National Institute of Virology will coordinate the testing of samples of the virus while the Integrated Disease Surveillance Project (IDSP) will be engaged in communiy-level surveillance. After the ministry took stock, all state governments have been advised to be prepared for hospital management and ensure that adequate logistics are available.

Before India, the US-based Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a ‘Level 1’ travel notice and advised usual precautions as ‘avoiding contact with sick people’ and and ‘avoiding animals, animals markets and their products’.

The CDC, like Wuhan Municipal Commission, does not rule out the possibility of human-to-human transmission. “So far there have been no confirmed reports of person-to-person spread. However, limited person-to-person spread may be possible,” it said.

The Indian government’s statement also acknowledged limited risk of human-human transmission, adding that the global level of risk remains low. The World Health Organization has so far maintained that there is no clear evidence to suggest the same.

One patient succumbed to the new strain of the virus in Wuhan on January 17, taking the death toll to two. Also, Thailand reported a second case of the infection. On January 13, the first case in the country was reported. Both patients had travelled to Wuhan. Japan earlier reported a similar case. 

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