Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan. (Photo Credit: PTI)
As many as 150 passengers identified with symptoms of coronavirus referred to isolation facilities in the country as the government steps up efforts to deal with the outbreak. Making a suo motu statement in the Rajya Sabha, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said the government has taken several measures to check the spread of coronavirus and emphasised that existing visas are no longer valid for any foreign national traveling from China. "People traveling to China henceforth will be quarantined on return," he said.
Vardhan said that screening of passengers started on January 18 and the process is being carried out at 21 airports and added that universal thermal screening has been made mandatory for all flights coming from Singapore and Hong Kong as well.
The health minister said three people in Kerala have tested positive for coronavirus so far and all of them had a travel history to Wuhan in China. They are now reported to be clinically stable.
“A group of ministers (GoM), headed by the Union health minister, has been constituted to monitor the situation. This group consists of ministers of External Affairs, Home, Shipping and Civil Aviation,” Vardhan said in the Rajya Sabha.
Vardhan said 1,275 flights have been screened for coronavirus so far, covering 1,39,539 passengers.
Screening has also been initiated at all integrated check posts on the Nepal border after a confirmed case was reported in Nepal.
In what is being referred as ‘inadvertent’ release of potentially the actual number of infections and deaths due to coronavirus infection, Chinese company Tencent allegedly published the ‘real data’ suggesting that the death count due to the epidemic in China has gone up to 24, 589. However, China has officially announced 500 deaths so far due to the coronavirus outbreak.
According to Taiwan News, Tencent published a report on its webpage titled, “Epidemic Situation Tracker”, which showed confirmed cases of novel coronavirus notching the 154, 023 mark.
Caijing, an independent magazine based in Beijing, has also hinted that the Communist Party of China is downplaying the real threat of coronavirus outbreak.
The world is running out of masks and other protective equipment against the novel coronavirus, the World Health Organization chief warned on Friday. “The world is facing a chronic shortage of personal protective equipment,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told the WHO's executive board in Geneva.
On Friday, Nepal gifted 100,000 protective masks to China. The decision to gift the masks came in the backdrop of its shortage in China. Foreign Minister Pradip Kumar Gyawali and Health Minister Bhanubakta Dhakal handed over the masks to China's ambassador to Nepal Hou Yanqi at an event.
A high-level meeting of the Nepal government on Thursday decided to dispatch one lakh protective masks to China.