‘Screening All International Flyers, Dispatching Scientists To Iran’: Top Points From Health Minister’s Presser

‘Screening All International Flyers, Dispatching Scientists To Iran’: Top Points From Health Minister’s PresserHealth Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan (Pic Via Twitter)

A Delhi resident, who came from Europe and tested positive for novel Coronavirus recently is found to have infected six of his relatives living in Agra, Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan informed media in a press briefing this afternoon.

A total of 66 people who he had come in contact with have been traced by the government and are being quarantined and isolated for testing and treatment, the Union health minister informed.

A techie in Hyderabad who came from Dubai and tested positive is also undergoing treatment. Eighty-eight people are being traced which he may have come in contact with including passengers of a bus which he took to travel from Bangalore to Hyderabad.

Apart from these eight positive cases, a group of Italian tourists has also been found to be carrying the Virus. This group of tourists came to India on 21 February before the government started screening of travellers from that country. One of the persons in the group apparently had already contacted COVID-19. He fell ill in Jaipur and was tested positive. He gave infection to his wife as well.

The government immediately isolated the group, their Indian driver and tour guide, and shifted them to ITBP camp in Chawla in West Delhi where they are quarantined. This group of 15 people has tested positive (17 including husband and wife who gave it to the group).

This takes the number of cases in India to 28 so far including three from Kerala who have now been cured. In total, out of 28, 16 are Italians and 12 Indians (three of them have been cured).

The government is following a cluster approach in the communities where the positive cases are being found.

Via this approach, an area of 3 km radius around the infected person is being taken as one cluster and all those living in that area are being contacted and checked for any symptoms, testing and treatment.

“It’s very difficult to trace every individual that might have come in contact with the infected. And by the time we end up tracing, one of them may have infected others and so on. So, we are taking the cluster approach as well in the areas and communities where infected are being found,” the minister told the press.

Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan informed that authorities have so far screened 5.89 lakh passengers at airports, over 15,000 at sea ports and 10 lakh at border with Nepal. 27,000 people are under community surveillance.

Dr Harsh Vardhan also informed that the centre is constantly in touch with Delhi government and other state governments to have a ready list of all available facilities - like isolation wards in hospitals - down to the district level. The instructions have been given to strengthen surveillance and rapid response teams including doctors in them.

Now that the COVID-19 has spread to over 75 countries, Minister Harsh Vardhan announced that the government has decided to do universal screening. All passengers landing in India from abroad will have to undergo screening.

The government has sent one scientist (three more will go today) to Iran with equipment to set up testing labs. “If Iranian authorities agree and if we get their support, we would set up a lab there so that people who we have to bring from Iran can be screened there,” he said.


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