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India issues travel advisory after outbreak of SARS-like virus in Chinese city


The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Friday issued an advisory for people travelling to China about a virus outbreak in the city of Wuhan in Hebei province, where more than 500 Indian students study, according to Hindustan Times. Wuhan is a university town, and most of the Indian students are in medical universities in and around the city.

“As on 11th January, 2020, 41 confirmed cases [of novel coronavirus] have been reported so far, of which one has died,” said the ministry. “Only travel related cases have been reported (one each) in Thailand and Japan. The clinical signs and symptoms are mainly fever with a few patients having difficulty in breathing.”

The government advised Indian travellers to observe good personal hygiene, frequently wash hands with soap, cover their mouth when coughing or sneezing, avoid close contact with people showing symptoms of the illness, not touch animals or consume raw and undercooked meat, wear masks if there are respiratory symptoms, and avoid travel to farms, live animal markets and slaughterhouses.

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Those travelling back to India have been told to inform airlines crew about their illness, ask them for face masks, and avoid close contact with family members and fellow travelers.

Though the government advisory said only one person had died after contracting virus, according to media reports two people have died – both in Wuhan.

The coronavirus is part of same family as the severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, and Middle East respiratory syndrome, reported CNN. Symptoms range from fever and coughing to kidney failure, and in some cases lead to death. According to the government advisory, the mode of transmission is unclear at the moment, and there is little evidence of significant human-to-human transmission. It does not appear to be as deadly as SARS, which infected more than 8,000 people and killed 774 people between 2002 and 2003.

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