As the Coronavirus outbreak deteriorated across the world with more cases of infections reported in India, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan addressed the press today to talk about the situation and the steps the govt is taking to combat the situation.
The health minister said that there has been a dramatic increase of confirmed positive results for coronavirus in the country, which has gone up to 28. 25 new cases were confirmed last week, after 3 in Kerala who were discharged from hospital after their infection was cured earlier.
Harsh Vardhan informed that on conducting contact tracing of the person tested positive in Delhi two days ago, 6 family members of the man have tested positive for coronavirus. Authorities had tested around 86 persons who had came to contact of that person, and the 6 relatives that have tested positive are from Agra. Now the health authorities are checking every household within 3 km of that house to check if anyone else was infected by that person.
The minister also informed that 14 members of a tourist group from Italy have been found infected with the virus. This group had entered India on 21 February, when persons coming from Italy were not being screened at airports. Earlier one person in the group had tested positive in Jaipur, after which the entire group was kept in isolation in an ITBP camp in Chhawla. Later the wife of the person was found infected. Now, 14 additional members of the group have tested positive. One Indian person, the driver of the group, also has tested positive for coronavirus. Therefore, total 17 persons have been infected in the group, 16 Italians and one Indian. The minister also informed that the Italian group had wanted to return after the first person in the group had tested positive, but Italian authorities had advised them to stay in India.
Apart from this, another case has emerged from Telangana, bringing the new infections to 25.
The minister said that all hospitals in the country have been asked to develop proper isolation facilities, as not only confirmed patients, but even persons suspected of having the virus infection need to be kept in isolation.
The government has now decided to start all passengers of all passengers coming from foreign countries, the minister said. Till now passengers from only 12 selected countries were being screened at the airports, but as the virus has spread to several new countries, now there will be a universal screening of everyone coming from abroad.
Talking about evacuating Indians from Iran, which has seen a sudden rise in the number of infections, Dr. Harsh Vardhan said that India has already sent one scientist to Iran, and more scientists are going there today afternoon along with laboratory equipment. He said that India intends to set up a laboratory in Iran so that Indians can be tested in Iran itself before bringing them to India.
The minister urged the people to avoid large gatherings, as one single infected person can infect the whole group, and also to avoid physical contact with people, like not shaking hands while meeting someone.
Dr. Harsh Vardhan informed that in the first phase 15 laboratories were set up to check for the COVID-19 virus, and now 19 more laboratories are being established. He said that among the new 19, 7-8 have already started functioning yesterday and rest will start functioning today.
The union health minister informed that till yesterday, Indian health authorities have screened about 5,89,000 persons at airports, over 15,000 at minor and major seaports and over 10 lakh persons at the Nepal border.