All government departments and ministries will consult the Union Health Ministry before organising international meetings to avoid exposure to coronavirus, which has killed over 3,000 people globally, the centre today decided in a meeting chaired by Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, PK Mishra. The meeting, which was attended by top officials of several ministries, took place after the number of people tested positive for the deadly virus in India increased to 29 on Wednesday.
“A broad spectrum of issues was reviewed. Two important changes since yesterday to further enhance our level of preparedness, namely introduction of universal screening at all international airports and sea-ports through use of thermal imagery equipment as well as mandatory filling of declaration forms of places visited by tourists and travellers returning from abroad, were noted by all concerned for operationalization,” a government statement read.
“Ministry of Home Affairs was tasked to work closely with state governments, including relevant district administration officials, to ensure compliance with screening protocols at Integrated Check Posts (ICPs) on our land borders. National Informatics Centre would provide the requisite support to the Bureau of Immigration and MHA in this regard,” it added.
In the meeting, decisions on setting up testing, isolation and quarantine facilities in the country “down to the district level” in partnership with states were also taken, the government said.
The Health Ministry briefed the officials on the impact of its medical helpline which has received over 6,000 phone calls.
Out of the people tested positive for the virus in India, 16 are tourists from Italy, where over 100 people have died because of the virus.
India has stepped up its efforts to prevent the spread of the virus. It has barred visitors from Italy, Iran, South Korea and Japan. Passengers of all international flights will have to undergo screening, Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said on Wednesday.