Centre issues travel advisory in wake of China’s coronavirus outbreak

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on January 17, 2020 Published on January 17, 2020

The disease has infected 41 persons and killed one till date

The union government has asked Indians travelling to China to be careful and follow public health measures to avoid the novel coronavirus that has been doing rounds lately.

Follow etiquettes

On Friday, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare issued a travel advisory to observe good personal hygiene, practise frequent hand washing with soap, covering the mouth when coughing or sneezing, avoid close contact with people who are unwell or showing symptoms of illness, such as cough, runny nose, avoid contact with live animals and consumption of raw or under-cooked meats, avoid travel to farms, live animal markets or where animals are slaughtered, and wear a mask if the person has respiratory symptoms such as cough or runny nose.

As on January 11, the virus has infected 41 persons and killed one on China. One patient each who travelled to China and got infected have been found in Thailand and Japan.

The ministry has said that clinical signs and symptoms are mainly fever with a few patients having difficulty in breathing. However, the mode of transmission is unclear as of now. “However, so far there is little evidence of significant human-to-human transmission,” the advisory said.

Although as per World Health Organization’s risk assessment, the risk for global spread has been stated as low, as a matter of abundant precaution, the travellers are advised to cover the mouth while coughing or sneezing, refrain from travels if sick and seek medical attention promptly.

The ministry has also stated that if a traveller feels sick on flight while travelling back to India, s/he should inform the airlines crew about illness, seek mask from the airlines crew, avoid close contact with family members or fellow travellers and follow the directions of airline crew while disembarking from the airplane.

“If you feel sick on flight or at the time of disembarkation, report to airport health authorities or immigration and follow the direction of the airport health officer and if you feel sick with in a span of one month after return from China, report the illness to the nearest health facility and also inform the treating doctor regarding your travel history,” the advisory states.

Seafood suspected

According to WHO, the situation is still evolving and preliminary investigations suggest link to the seafood market. Coronaviruses are large family of viruses, which cause illnesses to people and also circulate in animals including camels, cats and bats. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can also evolve and infect people.

The MoHFW has instructed screening of international travellers from China at designated airports namely, Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata through thermal scanners. In coordination with the Ministry of Civil Aviation, in-flight announcements are also being made.

The MoHFW has issued necessary directions to all concerned on laboratory diagnosis, surveillance, infection prevention and control (IPC) and risk communication. Integrated Disease Surveillance Program (IDSP) is geared up for community surveillance and contact tracing, a statement from the ministry said.

“The NIV Pune, ICMR Laboratory is coordinating the testing of samples for nCoV in the country. The hospital preparedness with regard to management and infection prevention control facilities has been also reviewed during high level meetings and advisories, and IPC Guidelines have been shared with the states,” the statement said.

It further said, “Adequate stocks of logistics is available. State governments have also been advised on the necessary precaution to be taken up on the issue. Ministry of Health is also in touch with Ministry of External Affairs, and the immigration officers at the said airports have been sensitised.”

Published on January 17, 2020
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