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Centre asks states to beef up surveillance on air travellers

New Delhi: Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba has asked states to immediately strengthen surveillance of international air travellers who entered India between January 18 to March 23 as there appeared to be a “gap” between those being monitored for COVID-19 and 15 lakh arrivals during the period. In a letter to chief secretaries of all states and Union territories, Gauba said the gap in monitoring of international passengers “may seriously jeopardise the efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19”, given that many amongst the persons who have tested positive so far in India have history of international travel.

“As you are aware, we initiated screening of international incoming passengers at the airports with effect from January 18, 2020. I have been informed that up to March 23, 2020, cumulatively, Bureau Of Immigration has shared details of more than 15 lakh incoming international passengers with the States/UTs for monitoring for COVID-19.

“However, there appears to be a gap between the number of international passengers who need to be monitored by the States/UTs and the actual number of passengers being monitored,” Gauba said in his letter.

The government had started monitoring of all international passengers who have arrived in India in last two months in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

Gauba said, “it is important that all international passengers are put under close surveillance to prevent the spread of the epidemic.” The Centre has asked state governments to take steps to prevent a mass exodus of migrant workers in the wake of the national lockdown even as they gathered in thousands in Ghazipur on the Delhi border on Friday desperate to reach their hometowns in adjoining Uttar Pradesh.

The 21-day lockdown imposed from Tuesday midnight in a bid to halt the spread of coronavirus has triggered a mass exodus of migrant workers from cities in several states to their villages raising concerns that the COVID-19 outbreak could turn into a humanitarian crisis.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah also spoke to some of the chief ministers and asked them to look into the issue of the mass exodus.

COVID-19 death toll rises to 17 in India

NEW DELHI: The death toll due to the coronavirus pandemic rose to 17 on Friday morning in India,  even as the country continued to be under a lockdown for the third day in an attempt to contain the infection. The total number of cases soared to 724 with 66 of the patients being discharged so far, the health ministry announced. India is soon likely to participate in the WHO’s ‘solidarity trial’ for developing potential drugs for COVID-19, officials said on Friday.  AGENCIES

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