Ministers hold 2nd meet to review coronavirus preparedness

New Delhi, Feb 13 (IANS) A Group of Ministers (GoM) formed to review, monitor and evaluate the preparedness and steps taken to prevent and tackle novel coronavirus cases in the country held its second meeting here on Thursday.
The GoM, set up on the directions of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, reviewed the preparedness to deal with the new coronavirus — which emerged in China’s Wuhan city last year and was later renamed by World Health Organisation as COVID-19.
Chaired by Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, the GoM members were apprised of the current status of the three positive cases reported from Kerala as well as the preventive steps taken for the management of COVID-19.
The GoM includes Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar, Minister of State for Home Nityananda Rai, Minister of State for Shipping Mansukh Mandaviya, and Minister of State for Health Ashwini Kumar Choubey.
The first GoM meet took place on February 3.
“The GoM was informed about the two quarantine centres housing 645 persons evacuated from Wuhan. The camps are being maintained by the armed forces and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP). All inhabitants are medically examined on a daily basis. The GoM was apprised that all the evacuees have tested negative for COVID-2019,” a government statement said.
In addition, the GoM was also briefed that as of today, 2,315 flights have been screened and 2,49,447 passengers covered. Screening of passengers is going on at 21 airports, ports and border crossings, particularly with Nepal.
Universal screening in all flights emanating from Japan and South Korea, besides China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Thailand, have been included, said the statement.
Further, 15,991 people are presently under community surveillance in 34 states and Union Territories, it said.
“Of the 1,671 samples sent for testing, only three were found positive as reported earlier.”
The ICMR’s National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune has been made a nodal centre for coordinating diagnostics for COVID-19, it said, adding 14 regional labs have also been activated, standardized, and are testing the samples.
The GoM was also apprised that adequate material like Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) and N95 masks are available and the situation is closely monitored in all the states and Union Territories.
“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 also operational (011-23978046),” said the statement.
Meanwhile, Chinese authorities on Thursday informed that the overall death toll due to coronavirus outbreak in that country reached 1,367, with 52,526 confirmed cases, after Hubei province, the epicentre of the epidemic, registered the largest one-day increase in infections and deaths.

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