Alarm over suspected coronavirus cases in New Delhi

Death of a Thai national adds to scramble to ensure preventive measures

The administration also announced the closure of all primary schools in Jammu and Samba districts till March 31, an official spokesperson said.

Increasing risk of coronavirus threat to India has been highlighted by the death of a Thailand national in Kolkata and three suspected cases of infection in New Delhi, throwing the Health Ministry into a tizzy.

In addition to suspected cases in Jaipur and Mumbai, these developments have emphasised on the need for urgent and continuous preventive measures to prevent the virus from wreaking havoc in India. Health Minister Harsh Vardhan has called for 24×7 vigil and regular review of preventive measures, while Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba is streamlining a co-ordinated effort to ensure precautions are taken at all levels.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is also monitoring the situation and regular updates are being provided at the top level, a senior government official added.

Also read: Govt prepares for possible evacuation of Indians from Wuhan

“That the coronavirus has spread as far as Europe is an indication that we cannot let our guard down,” the official added. After Nepal, Sri Lanka has also reported a confirmed case of coronavirus infection and it is clear that the virus has not been contained within China despite massive efforts.

The three patients who are being treated at an isolation ward in Delhi’s Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital are described to be stable while efforts are on to find out the exact cause of the Thailand citizen’s death in Kolkata. Three patients complained of fever, sneezing, and cough that are usual symptoms of flu, are kept in isolation since two of them had recently returned from China. While there is no confirmation of any coronavirus case in India so far, it is felt that stronger preventive measures are needed and the situation will be very difficult if the virus spreads to India.

Also read: Tourist from China tests positive for coronavirus, first case in Sri Lanka

Therefore, it has been decided to extend monitoring to all airports and seaports with connectivity not only to China but also to other countries where infections are reported. The crew of cargo vessels reaching India are also being screened.

Regular review meetings will be held and multiple meetings are to take place every day, according to the top official. Health Ministry will carry out its review and the Cabinet Secretary will look after all co-ordination issues, the official added.

Also read: Coronavirus: China toll at 106, Indian aircraft on standby for evacuation

While metro cities have been prepared to a large extent, a major issue is to make sure preparations are done in smaller towns also for isolation wards, special treatment of suspected cases, precautionary measures to be taken by doctors as well as para-medical staff handling such patients and availability of preventive gear like masks as well as gloves. Therefore, coordinated efforts are being done at the top level of Central government and state governments have been asked to ensure no stone is left unturned.