The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Thursday said people must practice forms of social distancing amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, adding that there was no need to panic as there were adequate facilities available for testing, the Hindustan Times reported. The ministry made the statement at a press briefing in the national Capital as the number of cases in the country rose to 73. The latest government data included nine new patients from Maharashtra, three from Uttar Pradesh, and one from Ladakh.

“India’s efforts to deal with coronavirus are in consonance with World Health Organisation and the focus is on preventive approach,” a health ministry official said at a press conference. “Over 1,500 people are under observation for coming in contact with 73 positive cases of coronavirus.”

The government asked people to focus on adopting a preventive approach to tackle the outbreak. “Mask is not always necessary, if a person maintains effective social distance, mask is not needed,” India’s Ministry of Health Joint Secretary Lav Aggarwal said.

He added that India has not recorded any case of community transmission of the virus till now. “We have only a few cases that have come from outside and they have primarily affected their close family members.” The ministry also said that apart from the existing 1 lakh testing kits available, additional testing kits have also been ordered.

The health ministry denied there being any evidence that suggests the coronavirus cannot withstand high temperatures. “All facts about it are still being studied. There are no confirmatory studies. It is generally expected that the virus, if it is in higher temperatures may have difficulty in surviving, but it is not confirmed,” Aggarwal said. “Though flu is not common in summer, [there is] no study or evidence that suggest high temperature kills coronavirus.”

While addressing the virus outbreak situation in India, the Indian Council of Medical Research said it will take a minimum of one-and-a-half to two years to develop vaccines for the coronavirus. “On the directions of the Prime Minister’s Office, a GoM was constituted to continuously monitor the situation and evaluate preparedness and formulate measures regarding the management of coronavirus in the country,” it added.

Till now, the Centre has evacuated 900 citizens along with 48 belonging to other nationalities like Maldives, Myanmar, Bangladesh, China, US, Madagascar, Sri Lanka, Nepal, South Africa, and Peru, the ministry said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday urged people not to panic and instead focus on taking precautions to combat the novel coronavirus. He also announced that none of his ministers will travel outside the country as a step to contain the pandemic that has affected over 100 nations.

Earlier in the day, the Indian administration announced that three planes will be sent to Iran in the next three days to bring back Indians stranded in the country.

The total number of confirmed cases for the virus in the world is 1,27,749, and 4,717 people have died due to it.