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India steps up vigil on border following confirmed case of novel Coronavirus in Nepal

India steps up vigil on border following confirmed case of novel Coronavirus in Nepal

India has stepped up the vigil at the border of Nepal in response to the confirmed case of Novel Coronavirus (nCoV).

Ms Preeti Sudan, Union Health and Family Welfare Secretary reviewed the preparedness of these bordering states along the Nepal border in terms of orientation of health and adherence of various prevention & management protocols as well as awareness regarding prevention of coronavirus among the people being screened and those transiting the border with Nepal.

The meeting discussed self-reporting by these people, preparation of isolation wards; and availability of protective gear. The States informed the Health Secretary that they had made all necessary arrangements for screening of people transiting across the border. They also informed that travel advisories, other guidelines and protocols issued by the Health Ministry have been also widely disseminated.

Orientation of the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB), the medical personnel, and health officials has also been conducted. Awareness drives are being undertaken through miking, distribution of leaflets and signages at the border check posts.

Special Gram Sabhas will be organised in coordination with the Panchayati Raj Department over this week for enhancing awareness regarding the coronavirus diseases, its symptoms, preventive measures, and reporting in the border villages. Panchayats have been asked to coordinate with the Hotels Association for wider self-reporting by travellers from Nepal visiting religious and other tourist places in these states.

Ms. Preeti Sudan, chaired a video conference (VC) with Chief Secretaries and DG (Police) of the five states bordering Nepal (Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal and Sikkim) and Pr. Secretary (H) of other states/UTs, to review their preparedness for prevention and management of coronavirus.

Meanwhile, Mr Ajay Kumar Bhalla, Secretary, Home Affairs interacted with DGP of the States/UTs and guided them on key steps to be taken up in the bordering areas, in coordination with the Health Dept. The Shipping Ministry informed that necessary communication has been sent to the national port authorities. They were also directed to follow up with the Inland Waterways Authority of India, and coordinate with the maritime states. NDMA has been requested to share its guidelines and other relevant information with the state authorities.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization South-East Asia has urged countries in the Region to remain vigilant and strengthen readiness to rapidly detect any case of importation of the new coronavirus and prevent its spread.

“It is time to focus all efforts on readiness guided by whatever is known about the new coronavirus,” said Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia Region in a statement issued here.

WHO is working with countries in the Region to roll out these guidelines, prioritizing reviewing and building capacities for laboratory diagnostic, including referral of specimens and diagnosis; trainings in case management, specimen collection and transportation, and infection prevention and control; logistics support and communicating risks and promoting desired behavior in the community, the statement said.

The Regional Director has been in contact with the Ministers of Health since the onset of the outbreak. Last week Dr Khetrapal Singh also took stock of the preparedness and support being extended by WHO to countries.

Globally, WHO continues to work with networks of researchers and other experts to coordinate global work on surveillance, epidemiology, modelling, diagnostics, clinical care and treatment, and other ways to identify, manage the disease and limit onward transmission.

Though the new coronavirus being called novel coronavirus-2019 was not declared a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC) by the Emergency Committee of the International Health Regulation which met last week, its risk was assessed to be ‘high’.

WHO is keeping a close watch on the evolving situation and remains committed to work with member countries to scale up readiness and implement IHR core capacities to respond to any importation, Dr Khetrapal Singh said, emphasizing that “We should continue to be vigilant and ready to contain and prevent any further spread,” the statement added.

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