Guwahati: After confirmation of the first case of Coronavirus aka 2019nCoV in Kerala on Thursday, India is on high alert against the novel virus. Assam health and family welfare minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Friday informed that the state has implemented all protocols as prescribed by the Centre as precautionary measures.
Speaking with reports on the sidelines of a ceremonial distribution of engagement letter to surveillance workers and staff nurses under National Health Mission in Guwahati, the health minister said, “Yesterday [Thursday], the cabinet secretary and health secretary has already held a video conference over the issue of coronavirus. We are provided with protocols from the Indian government and we are implementing those.”
Although currently there is no such case reported in Assam, but we will have to take the precautions against it, informed Sarma, adding that airport surveillance has already been started.
Explaining the mechanism set up at Guwahati Airport, international, Sanjeev Jindal, regional executive director (RED), Airports Authority of India, Northeast, said, “Regarding international coronavirus threat, as far as Northeast is concerned, in airports, only Guwahati airport is an airport where international flight movement is there from Singapore as well as Bhutan. We have specially created a checking-screening counter with the help of the state government and as per the standard operating procedures (SOP) and direction received from the Central government and other health department.”
Jindal informed that to spread awareness, informative standees have been placed in not just the international part of the airport, but also in the whole of Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport, in both the languages [Assamese and English].
Further, airlines have been advised to make announcements to passengers that if they have any kind of symptoms or doubt regarding infection, they can immediately come to the screening and testing counter at Guwahati airport, which has been specially created for this purpose.
He added, “although we haven’t found anyone with these kind of symptoms [Coronavirus like], but if suppose there is any screening and a passenger is found with these kind of symptoms, then we have a standard SOP: passenger will be taken to the GMCH hospital where one special ward has been isolated and created, and an isolated ambulance, a special ambulance has been created.”
Jindal highlighted that there is no need to panic as it seems to be under control as far as the Northeast region is concerned and “we are fully ready”.
On Thursday, the first confirmed case of novel coronavirus – a student studying at Wuhan University — was reported from Kerala. The said person has been kept in isolation and is being closely monitored.
Also, there were reports of a suspected case of coronavirus in Manipur and the death of a Tripura in Malaysia due to the novel virus. However, on fact-checking by EastMojo, both the cases were found to be untrue.
A woman from Imphal in Manipur was undergoing treatment after she was found with Coronavirus like symptoms, however, Dr L Arke Singh, additional director for public health, Manipur denied the news. And the Tripura man didn’t die due to coronavirus in Malaysia. According to the death certificate issued by the hospital in Malaysia, the person died due to fever and sickness, not due to coronavirus.
On Friday, a special Air India flight left for Wuhan to bring back around 400 stranded Indians. The flight will touch down in India in the wee hours of Saturday.
Worldwide, coronavirus has claimed more than 200 lives. The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Thursday declared that the new coronavirus outbreak was a global health emergency, acknowledging that the disease represents a risk outside of China, where it emerged last month. Several countries have issued a travel advisory against travelling to China.
EastMojo spoke with Dr Bitopan Das, a resident doctor at GMCH, Guwahati, who suggested three precautionary measures one can undertake:
1) Travel restrictions: Avoid travelling to places where coronavirus is prevalent.
2) Use of protective gear: Wear N95 masks. These masks protect against particulate matters.
3) Seek medical help: If you observe any symptoms, then visit a doctor immediately.
Dr Das discouraged self-medication and said it is imperative to see a doctor to avoid spreading of the virus.