'15,000 Indians under surveillance for coronavius'

15,000 Indians under surveillance for coronavirus; two of the three positive cases cured: Harsh Vardhan

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan. (PTI Photo)

More than 15,000 Indians including those who returned from China and their contacts are under observation even as two out of three confirmed cases of novel coronavirus infection turned negative, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said here Thursday.

Under observation, however, doesn't mean they are in hospital. The officials from the central and state government are in touch with these individuals, who have been told to watch out for any symptoms. So far 497 people have reported symptoms and 41 have been kept at isolation.

But barring the three Wuhan-returned individuals from Kerala, there aren't any positive cases from India so far. “Out of the three, two became negative and one has been discharged from the hospital,” the minister said.

The government has traced back each of the 278 persons who were in contact with those three during their journey from Wuhan to their homes in different parts of Kerala.

The contact tracing led to the identification of 94 persons for the first case, 22 for the second case and 162 for the third case. All are under surveillance.

"Prime Minister Narendra Modi is personally monitoring the situation. Every effort is being made to ensure the virus doesn't make inroads into India. People coming from China, Thailand, Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan and South Korea are being screened at 21 airports, 12 major seaports and 65 minor sea ports,” the minister said.

The 654 persons including seven Maldivian nationals, who were put up in two quarantine camps outside Delhi on their return from the ground zero at Hubei may be released next week after completion of 18 days as per a discharge protocol prepared by the Health Ministry.

Vardhan said a decision on air-lifting the 138 Indian nationals on-board cruise liner Diamond Princess would be taken after February 19 when Japanese authorities would announce ending the quarantine period.

Every Covid-19 positive individuals on-board the cruiser including the two Indians have been sent to hospital by Japanese authorities.

When the Group of Minister on the virus infection met here on Thursday to review situation, the Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertiliser Mansukh Mandaviya assured the GoM that there would not be any shortage of Chinese bulk drugs (active pharmaceutical ingredient) on which Indian pharmaceutical industry was dependent because of adequate buffer stock.

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