Coronavirus has not entered India, No need to panic: Dr Harsh Vardhan
New Delhi: Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan on Tuesday said there is nothing to panic as novel coronavirus has not come to India and that the government is in continuous talks with the China to bring back about 500 India nationals to home.
This is being done as a preventive measure against the outbreak of deadly novel coronavirus (nCoV) outbreak in Wuhan, Hubei province of China where more than 2,000 cases have been reported and the virus has claimed over 80 lives so far.
"I request to all people of this country not to panic as novel coronavirus has not come to India. We are taking all preventive measures to keep our people safe. Anybody who is showing slight symptoms of flu is being kept under isolation," Dr Vardhan told ANI.
"This, however, does not mean that they are a case of coronavirus. These are just suspected ones and should be quarantined for some time for medical care. We are sending blood samples of all suspected cases to the National Institute of Virology, Pune, for testing. So far all the results have been negative," added Dr Vardhan.
"Three suspected coronavirus cases at RML Hospital have been kept in isolation for medical care. Our government is vigilant. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is himself taking regular updates on the situation. All States have been directed to follow the instructions to be prepared. In 2014, we were so strict and focused that our efforts did not let Ebola virus to enter India. I am also in regular touch with the WHO," he said.
He said that the government will expand the thermal screening facility to seven more airports now. Till now, thermal screening of passengers coming from China via Hong Kong was done at 13 airports. From tomorrow, it will be expanded to seven more airports. Till now, about 35,000 passengers have been scanned at the airports, he said.
According to the Health Minister, the Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP) is geared up for community surveillance and contact tracing. National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune and the ICMR Laboratory is coordinating among themselves for the testing of blood samples.
"We are also going to extend the laboratory testing facility to four more laboratories across the country ... About 20 samples were sent to the NIV Pune, but all these found to be negative," he further said.
The government has issued a helpline number for the people to contact for any kind of help or suspected case.
"To avoid any kind of health complication, I request all the people of this country to follow a high standard of hand hygiene. Do not go to crowded places. Wear masks if you feel sick and contact your nearest doctor if you have any health issues," he said.
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).
The novel coronavirus is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans. Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, the infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure, and even death.