Coronavirus: Health ministry directs states to form rapid response teams

Teams to help curb community transmission, says ministry in statement

Karnataka, Telangana, Coronavirus outbreak, Sunitha Krishnan, Karnataka Health Minister B Sriramulu
With the Kuwait returnee testing positive, so far six people repatriated to the state in flights from the Gulf (Representative Image) Photo: PTI

In the wake of 29 positive novel coronavirus cases reported in India, the Union Health Ministry on Thursday (March 5) asked states to form rapid response teams at the district, block and village levels, stating cases of community transmission have been observed.

As of now, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country stands at 29, including 16 Italian tourists. The figure includes the first three cases in the country from Kerala last month. The three patients have since recovered. Of the Italian tourists, two are being treated in Jaipur, while the rest 14 have been shifted to the Medanta Hospital in Gurugram.

Related news: 14 Italians who tested positive for coronavirus shifted to Gurgaon hospital

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Screening of all foreign nationals has been mandated since March 4 and has started in most airports from Wednesday evening. The process should stabilise by Thursday with additional staff being provided by the states, the ministry said in a statement.

“Since, in addition to COVID 19 cases related to travel, some cases of community transmission have also been observed, it has been decided to involve district collectors and states have been asked to form rapid response teams as the district, block and village levels,” the ministry said.

A total of 3,542 samples have been sent for testing, of which 29 have been found to be positive for COVID-19 till now. Testing of 92 samples is in process and 23 samples are being reconfirmed, the statement said.

Private sector will also be engaged for COVID-19 management.

Related news: Trade impact of coronavirus for India estimated at 348 million dollars: UN 

Union health minister Harsh Vardhan will hold a meeting with key partners in on Thursday evening.

Calling the current situation a challenging one, Harsh Vardhan, on Thursday also briefed the Rajya Sabha on precautionary taken to contain the spread of the virus.

“We’re confronted with new challenges… We have started a containment facility in Agra…We are particularly concerned about Indian pilgrims and students stranded in Iran (where the coronavirus cases are high). The Indian government is following up with Iran on their condition,” Harsh Vardhan told the House.
Stating that the Prime Minister is personally monitoring the situation, Vardhan also told the Rajya Sabha that a group of minister has been formed to keep a tab on the situation.

Related news: Coronavirus: Cases at 29; govt asks people to avoid mass gatherings 

“Video conferences are being held with states every other day. Indian citizens are advised to refrain from travel to places like China and Korea and other COVID-19 countries,” he said.

(With inputs from agencies)

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