The Union Ministry of Civil Aviation has asked the authorities of seven major airports across the country to install equipment to screen people arriving from China for the coronavirus, a new SARS-like virus that has infected nearly 300 people in the neighbouring country.
While the Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata airports were initially asked to install the "thermal-screening" equipment, the order was expanded to cover those at Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Cochin as the threat perception increased. Air passengers arriving from China are also being asked to fill up "relf-reporting forms" before disembarkment at these aiports.
"These steps have been taken on the basis of advisories received from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare regarding the threat of Novel Corona Virus Disease in Wuhan, Hubei province of China. All passengers and stakeholders are requested to take appropriate precautionary measures in this regard," a tweet from the Ministry of Civil Aviation read.
News agency AFP reported that the coronavirus has spread to three other Asian nations -- Thailand, Japan and South Korea. A Chinese government expert yesterday said that the virus was contagious between humans.
The new strain of coronavirus has been a cause of alarm because of its connection to the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome or SARS virus, which had killed around 650 people across China and Hong Kong in 2002-2003. The World Health Organisation or WHO said yesterday that the virus appeared to come from "an animal source", reported news agency Reuters.
A seafood market in Wuhan is considered to be the epicentre of the outbreak.
Thermal screening facilitated at Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport for the passengers coming from China, in the light of Novel coronavirus outbreak in China's Wuhan. https://t.co/jeRRydRj4Spic.twitter.com/t29mnxdTTT- ANI (@ANI) January 21, 2020
WHO has not yet recommended trade or travel restrictions.
India had last week issued a travel advisory asking citizens to take precautionary measures while visiting China. The Health Ministry also sought details from the Foreign Ministry on those who applied for Indian visa since December 31 so they could be counseled, reported news agency PTI.
The coronavirus strain has so far killed four people in China, from 80 confirmed cases of the virus, according to China's National Health Commission.
Ministry of Civil Aviation has received advisory from Ministry of Health&Family Welfare on Novel Coronavirus in Wuhan of China. Health screening of passengers coming from China to Kolkata, Delhi & Mumbai to be undertaken at pre-immigration counters installed with thermal cameras.— ANI (@ANI) January 21, 2020
The statement from China today, which confirmed nearly 291 infections, did not say whether the new cases were in Wuhan or other areas across the province, reported AFP.
The commission said there are five confirmed cases in Beijing, 14 in the southern province of Guangdong and two in Shanghai.
(With Inputs From AFP, Reuters, PTI, ANI)