Indian government today decided to prepare for possible evacuation of its nationals in Wuhan, the central Chinese province which is the epicentre of the deadly coronavirus outbreak.
The Indian Ministry of External Affairs will make a request to the Chinese authorities in this regard, a statement issued by the Indian Prime Minister’s Office said after the Cabinet Secretary reviewed it at a high-level meeting on the situation in China.
The decision came even though no positive case of coronavirus infection has been reported so far anywhere in India.
“It was decided that steps may be taken to prepare for possible evacuation of Indian nationals in Wuhan. Accordingly, Ministry of External Affairs will make a request to the Chinese authorities,” the statement read.
Secretaries in the Indian Ministries of Health, External Affairs, Civil Aviation, Labour, Defence, Member-Secretary and National Disaster Management Authority among others attended the meeting.
So far, 29,707 passengers onboard 137 flights have been medically screened across India’s seven international airports, the statement said.
Samples of 12 passengers were referred to the National Institute of Virology in Pune but no positive case has been reported so far.
The Ministry of Civil Aviation has asked airlines to notify them regarding passengers reporting illness on all flights with direct or indirect connectivity to China, and distribute health cards to all flights of those origins.
The Home Ministry has ordered the screening of visitors from Nepal at integrated check posts along borders with India.
Nepal shares its border with five Indian states—West Bengal, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Sikkim and Uttarakhand.
The Indian Ministry of Shipping will also initiate screening of people at international ports incurring traffic from China.
At least 436 people, who returned to Kerala from China in recent days, are under observation for possible exposure to the novel coronavirus, Kerala health officials said today.
Five people are still under observation in isolation wards at various hospitals across the state, they said, adding all results of blood samples sent to the National Institute of Virology in Pune have been found to be negative for the virus.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi urging him to arrange for airlifting stranded Indians from Wuhan province.
Vijayan, in his letter, said Kerala had information from relatives of students from the state studying at various universities there that the situation there was "grave."
Vijayan also offered the assistance of medical professionals from Kerala in case the Indians being evacuated from Wuhan needed medical attention.