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Health Ministry asks Airports to scan travelers from China for nCoV


The Union Health Ministry on Friday instructed Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata airports to screen passengers returning from China through thermal scanners in order to find out if they harbour the novel Corona virus (nCov) that triggered an outbreak in the communist country.

Since December 31, China was hit by the new disease with the virus killing one person at Wuhan and infected 41 so far. Seven persons at Wuhan were critically ill out of which one died while the rest have been discharged.

Two others in Japan and Thailand who had travelled to China were also infected.

The disease’s clinical symptoms are mainly fever, with a few cases of having difficulty in breathing while the chest X-ray showed infections in both lungs.

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“As a matter of abundant precaution, the Union Health Ministry has instructed screening of international travellers from China at Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata airports through thermal scanners. In-flight announcements are also being made and a travel advisory has also been issued to the passengers travelling to and from China,” the ministry said in a statement.

With the bilateral trade crossing the $ 95 billion mark in 2018, there is a heavy flow of passengers between India and China.

According to the WHO, existing evidence suggests the outbreak’s association with exposures in one seafood market in Wuhan. At this stage, there is no infection among Chinese healthcare workers and no clear evidence of human to human transmission.

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“In India, the public health preparedness is being reviewed on a day-to-day basis and the core capacities to timely detect and manage the importation of the nCoV into the country are being strengthened further,” Preeti Sudan, Union Health Secretary said in a statement.

More than a decade ago, another coronavirusSARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) – created a scare in India and several other countries.

According to the WHO, coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases, such as Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) and SARS. The 2019-nCoV is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.

Pune-based National Institute of Virology has been asked to be prepared for testing whereas hospitals and state governments have been advised to be prepared.

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