Sandeep Dikshit/Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service
New Delhi, January 27
As death toll from the novel Coronavirus disease reached 106 in China, the Government has begun preparing for possible evacuation of Indians in Wuhan, the epicentre of outbreak that started on December 31, 2019.
Cabinet Secretary Rajeev Gauba chaired a high-level meeting for preparedness and decided that steps be taken to prepare for possible evacuation of Indian nationals in Wuhan.
The Ministry of External Affairs has been told to make a request to the Chinese authorities in this regard. Accordingly, the Indian Embassy in China began collecting passport details of Indians in the Hubei province. Over 200 Indian students are stuck in Wuhan.
The Indian Mission in China asked Indian nationals in the affected Hubei province to furnish details of their passports. “We have learnt that some of the Indian nationals are currently not in possession of their passports, which have been submitted to Chinese authorities for visa extension/work permit/other reasons. All those currently in Hubei province and not in personal possession of their passports are requested to intimate us with the following details: Name; Passport number; to whom (which Chinese authority) has the passport been submitted to and Date on which the passport was submitted,” India in China’s official twitter handle said.
The Indian embassy in Beijing also asked all Indians in Wuhan to report to a special help desk in order to get an accurate idea about the exact numbers so that they could request the Chinese government to take care of their essential needs.
A stocktaking of Indians – started through the collection of passport details -- will enable New Delhi to plan out evacuation in case the need arises.
No cases of the virus have so far been detected in India. Dr Gangakhedkar, top scientist of the ICMR at the National Institute of Virology, Pune, told The Tribune that the Institute had tested 20 samples so far and 19 had tested negative for the virus. “Today, we received six samples of which five have been found negative. In all till now we have rested 20 samples of which 19 are negative. One sample is under test. The Government has implemented multiple preventive measures. So far India has remained infection free and there is no cause for panic but we need to be vigilant. Only those who have a travel history to Wuhan, China, need to worry should they develop respiratory stress. Otherwise cold and cough is common in this season.”
Back in Delhi, the Cabinet Secretary chaired a high-level meeting and Health Secretary Preeti Sudan also held a video conference with the Chief Secretaries and DGPs of five states that border Nepal and with the health secretaries of all states. Nepal had reported one positive case of n-CoV.
The Cabinet Secretary was told that until yesterday 137 flights had been screened and a total of 29,707 passengers.
In the wake of Nepal reporting a case, the Ministry of Home was directed to ensure that integrated check posts initiate screening of visitors across the Nepal border.
States have been requested to provide health staff for these check posts. SSB, BSF and immigration officers manning integrated check posts have been sensitised. The Ministry of Civil Aviation has been told to instruct airlines for managing and notifying people reporting illness on all flights with direct or indirect connectivity to China; facilitate in-flight announcements and distribution of health cards to all flights with direct or indirect connectivity to China.
The Ministry of Shipping will facilitate early screening at the international ports having traffic from China.
HOTLINES FOR INDIANS IN CHINA
+8618610952903, +8618612083629, +8618612083617
EMAIL HELP FOR INDIANS IN CHINA
India helpline (for enquiries and self-reporting by people with travel history to China starting Jan 1)
No medicine available, prevention key
The WHO said that todate there is no specific medicine recommended to prevent or treat the virus.
The WHO is helping to accelerate research and development efforts with a range of partners.
Distress tweets from relatives
One Shashi Jaiman tweeted to Gujarat CM Vijay Rupani saying, “My daughter Shreya Jaiman is studying in Hubei University for MBBS, in Wuhan city of China. There are nearly 300 students of India in which 100 are Gujaratis who are stuck there due to coronavirus. Please take necessary steps to take them back to India.”
Another relative Manisha Prasad tweeted to Indian Mission in China saying, “Our niece Shimran is studying in Hubei Medical University, China. As there is outbreak of coronavirus in China we are worried about her. We request you to help her to come back safely to India. Her details are attached.”
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