Aditi Tandon and Sandeep Dikshit
Tribune News Service
New Delhi, January 28
India today stepped up efforts to evacuate its nationals from Wuhan as toll from the novel coronavirus outbreak in China crossed 106.
The Ministry of External Affairs made a formal request to China for facilitating the evacuation of Indian nationals from Wuhan with top government sources saying the “prospects for evacuation look bright”.
The Director General of Civil Aviation swiftly approved an Air India flight to Wuhan for the purpose.
The government meanwhile clarified that Indian nationals returning from China would have to undergo mandatory quarantine for two weeks to rule out infection. The quarantine, top government sources told The Tribune, would not happen in hospitals and would be located in the facilities of Home, Defence and Labour Ministries.
Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said, “Indian nationals returning from China would be quarantined for two weeks for which necessary preparations are being made. Meanwhile, we appeal to every Indian with travel history to China over the past month to self report in case they encounter respiratory stress, cold, cough or fever.”
Vardhan also said four additional laboratories apart from the National Institute of Virology, Pune, had been activated to handle sample detection and isolation wards had been kept ready in most hospitals.
“There has been no case of n-CoV in India so far but abundant caution is necessary,” Vardhan said. The Health Ministry is also procuring more thermal scanners which allow authorities to isolate passengers with higher than normal body temperature and screen them to rule out infection.
The Ministry of Shipping also began screening at all major ports today. In all, so far 155 flights have been screened involving 33,552 passengers. The samples from 20 passengers have been tested and found negative.
The top priority for the government right now is to earmark quarantine facilities for around 250 Indians, primarily students, when they return from China. Most of the 250 Indians in Hubei province (whose capital is Wuhan) are students, research scholars and professionals working with Indian and global companies.
Dalai Lama: Recite ‘Tara mantra’ to contain virus
Dharamsala: Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, has advised his followers in China to chant ‘Tara Mantra’ to contain the threat posed by coronavirus, which has reportedly left over 100 dead. A group of mainland Chinese devotees on Facebook had sought his advice amid widespread health scare. He shared a voice clip, himself chanting the mantra. PTI
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