Home > News > India > Coronavirus: India may quarantine passengers travelling from China

New Delhi: The health and family welfare ministry has issued a new advisory urging Indians to avoid travel to China, the epicentre of novel coronavirus (nCoV 2019) outbreak, adding that travellers on return could be quarantined.

“Anyone with travel history of China since 15th January, 2020, and from now on could be quarantined," the ministry said in the advisory issued on Sunday.

According to John Hopkins University’s real-time tracker for the disease, as of Monday, 17,348 people were affected across 27 countries, with death toll in China touching 362, and one death reported in The Philippines.

Experts claim that the novel coronavirus, the latest global public health emergency as declared by the World Health Organisation (WHO), may hit India’s trade and economy due to its dependence on China. The same goes for other countries as well.

KV Subramanian, chief economic advisor (CEA), on Friday said the impact of virus on the Indian economy should be very marginal. "I don't think there will be that big an impact on the economy," Subramanian had said at a press conference last week.

Following the WHO intervention, countries are free to decide on closing their borders, cancelling flights, screening people on arrival at airports and take other protective measures.

So far, two cases of novel coronavirus have been confirmed in Kerala. India has been cancelling flights to China and has evacuated over 600 people residing in Wuhan, where the virus erupted.

“Since complete isolation of travel is not practical, and in the absence of that from all countries, people who have a travel itinerary which (in part) included China but are now travelling from a different country, can be carriers. The concern for India is real, since India can be critically affected," said Debanshu Roy, a health economist and an engagement manager at University of Chicago Centre in Delhi.

“Many in this country are malnourished (wherein cases can become clinically severe) and we do not have a robust enough public health system at the lowest levels to manage severe cases. Additionally, with a high population density, the transmission rate can be extremely fast. The stricter restrictions are not because we have low confidence in the Chinese measures already being taken, but additional measures are being taken in the interest of National Security," he added.

There are concerns that if the coronavirus continues to spread across the globe at the current pace, it could hit India’s trade prospects. In 2002-03, India’s total trade with China stood at a paltry $4.8 billion which has since expanded more than 18 times to $87 billion in 2018-19.

“When the world’s largest manufacturer and a voracious consumer of goods shuts down temporarily, shock waves are felt across industries, markets and economies. Wuhan is a critical transportation hub that connects the gigantic internal Chinese market," said Ashish Bharadwaj, the Dean of Jindal School of Banking & Finance in India.

“The coronavirus outbreak will test the resilience of any firm, industry or nation that has forward or backward economic linkages with China. Let’s hope this is restricted to economic impact and doesn’t affect socio-cultural and trade relations of China’s trading partners," he added.

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