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Coronavirus: Government asks states to form teams, MEA in touch with Iran to evacuate Indians

Screening of all foreign nationals has been mandated since March 4 and has started in most airports from Wednesday evening.

Published: 05th March 2020 12:56 PM  |   Last Updated: 05th March 2020 12:56 PM   |  A+A-

Union Health minister Dr. Harshvardhan addresses the media on Coronavirus in New Delhi on Wednesday. (Photo | Shekhar Yadav/EPS)

By PTI

NEW DELHI: In the wake of 29 positive novel coronavirus cases reported in India, the Union Health Ministry on Thursday asked states to form rapid response teams at the district, block and village levels, stating cases of community transmission have been observed.

As of now, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country stands at 29, including 16 Italian tourists.

The figure includes the first three cases in the country from Kerala last month.

The three patients have since recovered.

Screening of all foreign nationals has been mandated since March 4 and has started in most airports from Wednesday evening.

The process should stabilise by Thursday with additional staff being provided by the states, the ministry said in a statement.

"Since, in addition to COVID 19 cases related to travel, some cases of community transmission have also been observed, it has been decided to involve district collectors and states have been asked to form rapid response teams as the district, block and village levels," the ministry said.

A total of 3,542 samples have been sent for testing, of which 29 have been found to be positive for COVID-19 till now.

Testing of 92 samples is in process and 23 samples are being reconfirmed, the statement said.

Private sector will also be engaged for COVID-19 management.

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan will hold a meeting with key partners in the evening.

Fourteen Italians, who tested positive for coronavirus and were quarantined at an ITBP facility in Chhawla, have been shifted to the Medanta Hospital in Gurgaon.

MEA has also been in touch with Iran on possible evacuation of Indian pilgrims and students stuck in the coronavirus-hit nation, Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said on Thursday.

Making a statement on the situation after cases of coronavirus surfaced, he said a total of 29 people in India have tested positive, including three initial cases in Kerala who have since recuperated and discharged.

New cases include one in Delhi with a travel history of Italy and another in Telengana, who came in contact with a Singapore national in Dubai.

Six persons, who came in contact with the person infected with the virus in Delhi, have tested positive, he said detailing steps taken by the government to contain its spread.

"The government is taking all necessary measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in India," he said.

The government has carried out two evacuation missions, bringing back a total of 767 from China.

All of them have been kept in quarantine and have so far tested negative for the virus, he said.

The minister said the government is following up with Iran to tie-up evacuation of Indian pilgrims and students stranded in Tehran and Qom as per need.

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