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Aerobridges to be used to screen passengers at 7 international airports

New Delhi: Aerobridges will be used at dedicated gates of seven international airports (Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Cochin, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Chennai) to screen passengers from China, Singapore, Thailand and Hong Kong for novel coronavirus (nCoV) to ensure effective prevention, the Union health ministry said on Tuesday.

The decision was taken at a meeting held by Health Secretary Preeti Sudan to review the preparedness of states with the ministries or departments concerned on nCoV through video-conference.

India has so far reported three positive cases of nCoV from Kerala.

Sudan informed that screening of passengers was being done at all the 21 airports, international seaports and border crossings.

A total of 89,500 passengers of 777 planes were screened so far at the 21 airports, she said.

As many as 454 samples were tested, of which 451 were found to be negative and the remaining three positive, Sudan said, adding that 3,935 passengers were under community surveillance in 29 states and Union Territories (UTs).

Health secretaries from the states and UTs, along with senior officials from the ministries of shipping, external affairs, civil aviation, tourism and home affairs attended the video-conference.

Sudan informed that various precautionary measures were undertaken in close coordination with the ministries concerned at the central level.

She said the situation was being closely monitored by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), Union health minister and cabinet secretary on a daily basis.

The Union health secretary reiterated that new visa restrictions and advisories were issued in view of the emerging scenario globally and asked the states to raise awareness on those.

Sudan reviewed the preparedness of all the states and UTs in terms of orientation of health and other agencies, adherence of various prevention and management protocols, awareness regarding prevention of nCoV among those being screened and those transiting the border with Nepal, self-reporting by these people, isolation wards etc.

She asked the states to take necessary steps for contact tracing and for adequate surveillance management. 

Sudan also informed that in order to meet the increasing demand for additional manpower to undertake the screening at airports, the states should provide the required health workforce and other logistic support.

The states bordering Nepal informed that they were taking necessary measures and following up on the guidelines issued by the government on screening people and surveillance management.

States that do not have airports or seaports said special awareness drives at toll plazas, bus stations and railway stations were being initiated.

Kerala, which has reported three positive cases — all students from China’s Wuhan — highlighted the close monitoring and surveillance being carried out by it across all administrative units in the state.

The Ministry of Tourism stated that it was coordinating with the Hotels Association for wider self-reporting by travellers visiting religious and other tourist places.

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