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High level Group of Ministers reviews management of Novel Coronavirus

On the directions of Prime Minister, a high level Group of Ministers is constituted comprising of Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Health & Family Welfare, Hardeep S. Puri, Minister of Civil Aviation, Dr. S Jaishankar, External Affairs Minister, G. Kishan Reddy, Minister of State for Home, Ashwini Kumar Choubey, Minister of State, Health & Family Welfare and Mansukh Lal Mandaviya, Minister of State (I/c), Shipping to review, monitor and evaluate the preparedness regarding management of Novel Coronavirus in the country.

The first meeting of GoM was held on Monday at Nirman Bhawan to review the preparedness and steps taken by the Ministries of Health, Shipping, External Affairs, Civil Aviation and Home Affairs. It was chaired by Union Minister of Health & Family Welfare, Dr. Harsh Vardhan. 

A presentation of the status of the NCOV-2019 was made to the GOM. The members were also apprised of the three cases reported from Kerala, one of which was confirmed on Monday. The preventive steps and measures taken for management of Novel Coronavirus disease in India were presented, which included information about the revised travel advisories issued on Sunday regarding the temporary suspension of the e-visa facilities.

Travel Advisory has been revised informing the public to refrain from travel to China and that anyone with travel history in China since 15th January 2020 and from now on could be quarantined. Further, e-Visa facility for Chinese passport holders has been temporarily suspended, e-Visa already issued to Chinese nationals is also not valid temporarily and the facility for submitting the application online for the physical visa from China is suspended. It has been advised that people having compelling reasons to visit India should contact the Indian embassy in Beijing or consulate in Shanghai or Guangzhou. Instructions to comply with above travel advisory have also been issued to all national and international airlines operating from China by the Ministry of Civil Aviation. 

The GOM was also informed about the two Quarantine Centres having 645 persons evacuated from Wuhan. The camps are being maintained by Armed Forces and ITBP. All inhabitants are medically examined on a daily basis. 

In addition, they were also briefed that as of Monday, a total of 593 flights have been screened covering a total of 72353 passengers. Screening of passengers is ongoing in 21 airports, international seaports and border crossings particularly with Nepal. Universal screening in all flights from Singapore and Thailand besides Hong Kong and China is being done.

Further, 2815 people are presently under community surveillance in 29 States/UTs. Out of a total of 338 samples sent for testing, 335 have been found to be negative, 3 are positive, while 70 are being processed.  The ICMR National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune has been made a nodal centre for coordinating diagnostics for Novel Coronavirus. 12 Regional Labs have been activated, standardized, and are testing the samples.

The GOM was also apprised that adequate materials like Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) and N95 masks are available and the situation is closely monitored in all the States/UTs.

The preparedness and actions are being reviewed at the highest level everyday by the Union Health Minister and the Cabinet Secretary, in addition to Secretary (HFW). A 24×7 Control Room is operational (011-23978046).

IEC material is prepared and widely disseminated through various channels of print, electronic and social media. Daily Press briefing by Ministry of Health is being undertaken to update the public.  

The meeting was attended by Preeti Sudan, Secretary (HFW), H. Vardhan Shringla, Secretary (Foreign), Pradeep Singh Kharola, Secretary (Civil Aviation), Sanjeeva Kumar, Spl. Secretary (Health), Sanjay Bandopadhyay, Addl. Secretary (Shipping) along with other officials from related ministries.

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