Prime Minister Narendra Modi directed officials to identify locations for sufficient quarantine facilities and make provisions for critical care as he reviewed the coronavirus situation on Saturday.
Three positive cases of novel coronavirus — two persons from Ladakh with travel history to Iran and another from Tamil Nadu who had visited Oman — were reported in India, taking the total number of confirmed cases to 34 on Saturday. All the patients are stable.
At the meeting with all ministries and departments concerned, the prime minister said that in view of expert opinion, people should be advised to avoid mass gatherings as much as possible and made aware of the do’s and don’ts.
While complimenting all departments for the work done so far, PM Modi stressed that as the coronavirus scenario evolves, India has to be prepared in its response.
“All departments should work in convergence and action should be initiated for creating awareness in community about the disease and the precautions to be taken,” the prime minister was quoted as saying in an official statement.
“He exhorted the officers to identify the best practices for COVID-19 management from across the world and within the states, and ensure their adoption,” it said.
The prime minister also highlighted the need for advanced and adequate planning, and timely response which is critical for managing this infectious disease.
According to the statement, the officials were instructed to plan for early testing and evacuation of Indians from Iran where, according to reports, 145 people have died so far due to COVID-19.
On Saturday, a flight from Tehran brought to Delhi swab samples of Indians in Iran who are suspected of having the coronavirus infection. The flight, operated by Mahan Air, then returned with many Iranian nationals.
At the prime minister’s review meeting, Health Secretary Preeti Sudan made a presentation about the current scenario and action taken by the Health Ministry and other supporting ministries regarding preparedness and response to COVID-19.
She laid emphasis on the core areas of surveillance at the points of entry and community, laboratory support, hospital preparedness, logistics and risk communication.
The meeting was attended by Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, his deputy Ashwini Kumar Choubey, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba, Niti Aayog member Vinod Paul, Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat, and secretaries of health, pharma, civil aviation, MEA, health research, home, shipping, NDMA and others.
The secretary in the Department of Pharma informed the meeting about availability of sufficient stocks of medicines, active pharmaceutical ingredients and other consumable items for use in India.
Issues related to the need for continued vigil at all airports, seaports and land border crossings, community-level surveillance, and ensuring availability of sufficient beds for isolation were discussed.
While Vardhan emphasised the need for effective coordination with states for timely response, Niti Aayog member Paul stressed on increasing capacity for hospitalisation. The request obtained for evacuation of Indians from Iran was also highlighted at the meeting.