Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday said there was no need to panic about the novel coronavirus in India. He added that people need to work together and take “small yet important” measures for self-protection.
“Had an extensive review regarding preparedness on the COVID-19 novel Coronavirus,” Modi tweeted. “Different ministries and states are working together, from screening people arriving in India to providing prompt medical attention.”
Earlier in the day, the Union Health Ministry said that six suspected cases of coronavirus have been detected in Agra during sample testing. These patients came in contact with the individual who tested positive for COVID-19 in Delhi a day earlier.
“Six cases with high viral load have been detected during sample testing in Agra,” the ministry’s statement said. “Contact tracing of the persons who have come in contact with these six persons is also simultaneously being done through the Integrated Disease Surveillance Program network.”
The patients have been kept in isolation and their samples will be sent to National Institute of Virology in Pune for confirmation.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal held an urgent meeting with Health Minister Satyendar Jain and other top officials at 3 pm to discuss the government’s preparations amid concerns about the coronavirus, PTI reported.
At a press conference later, Jain urged people not to panic. “We are taking all possible steps to keep Delhi safe,” he added. “Isolation wards being readied in 25 hospitals, including 19 government and six private hospitals.”
The minister said as many as 3.5-lakh N95 masks are being arranged to tackle the virus. “We have over 8,000 separation kits for staff treating coronavirus patients,” Jain added.
A private school in Noida has also cancelled exams as Delhi’s coronavirus patient has a child studying in the school and some children had met his family members for a party. Reports said another school in the vicinity has also reportedly decided to shut down temporarily.
The Reserve Bank of India said it was closely monitoring the global as well as the domestic situation on the coronavirus outbreak and that it was ready to take necessary action to ensure orderly functioning of financial markets. “Globally, financial markets have been experiencing considerable volatility, with the spread of coronavirus, triggering risk-off sentiments and flights to safe haven,” the central bank said in a statement.
Meanwhile, hotels and tourist sites in Agra have been instructed to inform the office of the chief medical officer as soon as visitors from Italy, Iran or China arrive, PTI reported. “As soon as the hotel informs us, a team of doctors goes to the hotel, and examines them for symptoms of coronavirus,” Chief Medical Officer Mukesh Vats said. “All the tourist sites have been told to inform the 24-hour control about visitors from countries where coronavirus outbreak has been reported.”
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi tweeted: “There are moments in the life of every nation when its leaders are tested. A true leader would be completely focused on averting the massive crisis about to be unleashed by the virus on India and its economy.”
He tagged his own February 12 tweet in which he had said the coronavirus is an extremely serious threat to “our people and our economy”.
India also cancelled all visas for travellers from Italy, Iran, South Korea, Japan issued on or before March 3. “Those requiring to travel to India due to compelling reasons, may seek fresh visa from nearest Indian embassy/consulate,” the government said.
Three new cases of coronavirus were reported in India on Monday. One of the new cases was detected in New Delhi, while the other was in the Telangana. The Delhi patient had been in Italy and the one in Telangana had been Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, the government said, adding that both were stable and being closely monitored. An Italian tourist in Rajasthan initially tested negative for the virus but a second test came out positive.
The coronavirus, which was identified in China late last year, has quickly spread to dozens of countries, killing nearly 3,000 people.