India on Tuesday expanded thermal screening of passengers arriving from China including Hong Kong to seven airports for preventing any entry of ‘Novel Corona Virus Disease (nCoV) in the country.
Following advisory from National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, the Ministry of Civil Aviation directed for all logistics support and arrangements to be made immediately with regard to screening of passengers arriving in India from China including Hong Kong at the identified airports i.e. Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Cochin along with three airports at Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata identified earlier.
Ministry of Civil Aviation has called for immediate implementation of the action plan and strict adherence by identified airports and all concerned airlines.
“In order to facilitate early isolation, in-flight announcements to be made by the airlines (which are directly coming from any airport in China including Hong Kong) requesting passengers with history of fever and cough and history of travel to Wuhan City in last 14 days to self-declare at port of arrival or to State Health Authorities," Ministry of Civil Aviation said in an official statement.
“Airlines staff to guide the passengers in filling up the self-reporting forms before disembarkation so that the filled up format can be checked by Airport Health Organization (APHO) staff on arrival. Airport signage to be displayed boldly at the strategic locations of these seven identified airports," it said.
Operational procedures recommended by International Air Transport Association (IATA) with regard to managing suspected communicable disease on board an aircraft.
“All passengers and crew who are otherwise healthy should be allowed to continue their onward journey. If the ill passenger or crew member is confirmed as a probable case of Wuhan Corona Virus, public health authorities should be notified about the contacts using the Passenger Locator Form," the official statement said.
Though there are no definite numbers of Indian students pursuing education in China, especially in course like medicine, screening at airports will help spot carriers who are India’s own citizens. The story of an Indian teacher contracting the virus in China has gained wider attention.
For those passengers who have visited the affected city but do not have any symptoms on arrival, but develop above mentioned symptoms within 28 days of arrival in India, the government has said that they should visit nearest hospital facility and report to the State or District Health Authorities and concerned Airport Health Officer.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has explained that Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). A novel coronavirus is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.
The apex health agency on Tuesday said that Director-General Tedros Adhanom will convene an Emergency Committee on the novel 2019-nCoV under the International Health Regulations. The Committee will meet on Wednesday, 22 January 2020. Meanwhile the apex health agency has said that the standard recommendations to prevent infection spread include regular hand washing, covering mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, thoroughly cooking meat and eggs. Avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing. According to reports on Tuesday the death toll in China due to virus has risen from four to six.