New Delhi—Travellers from Singapore and Thailand are now being screened for the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), which originated in Wuhan, a city in central China late last year, and has since gone on to infect 25,000 people all over the world.
Singapore has one of the highest numbers of people infected outside of China, with 28 confirmed cases as of February 5 (Wednesday). Japan is the only other country with a higher number of cases, now at 33.
Three people who tested positive for the virus—one Malaysian and two South Koreans—had been infected in Singapore. The Malaysian had attended a meeting at the Grand Hyatt Hotel that also had Chinese nationals as participants along with the two South Koreans.
India, which announced it was screening all passengers from China and Hong Kong last week, expanded screenings to passengers from Singapore and Thailand this week as well, in order to prevent the further spread of the virus.
At present, there are three confirmed 2019-nCoV cases in India. The three individuals are Indians who had studied in Wuhan, and are now hospitalized in isolation wards in Kerala, a southern state.
India’s Ministry of Civil Aviation said in a tweet on February 2, “In accordance with the instructions from @MoHFW_INDIA, the process of universal thermal screening is being expanded to cover flights coming from Thailand & Singapore as well, in addition to China & Hong Kong. MoCA is extending every possible support to ensure compliance.”
India’s shared border with China, as well as its large population of 1.33 billion, has caused its government to put certain measures in place in order to prevent an outbreak in the country, including declaring Kerala to be a “state calamity” to give it better access to resources for addressing the issue.
The country recently evacuated 600 individuals from Wuhan. They are now in two quarantine centres in the New Delhi area. Additionally, over 5,000 people are under “home surveillance” and test results for 342 people are expected to come in, according to India’s health authorities.
Despite measures that now include screening passengers from Singapore and Thailand, officials are still concentrating on travellers from China.
In a video message Preeti Sudan, the federal Health and Family Welfare Secretary, said “We have a focused campaign to ensure that people coming from China or even coming in contact with anyone from China. Please help us to help you; nobody wants their loved ones to be sick.”
On February 5 the Indian government said that visas that had been issued to travellers from China would no longer be considered valid.
The virus has continued to spread in China, with the country’s death count now standing at 493 people. Police in China have detained a growing number of persons for faking healthy statuses, defying quarantine measures or deliberately hiding the fact that they had travelled to areas affected by the coronavirus. They have been accused of breaking China’s criminal law and infectious disease law. China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed on Wednesday (Feb 5) that the United States has sent supplies to Wuhan to assist the Chinese authorities in the fight against the novel coronavirus (2019-CoV).
Hong Kong reported three new cases of the virus, bringing its case count to 21. The government announced that all travellers coming from mainland China will be placed under quarantine for 14 days, including Hong Kong and mainland residents. As healthcare workers go on strike for the third day over government response to the coronavirus, emergency wards in Hong Kong have been shut down. A total of 4,600 staff, including 300 doctors and 2,700 nurses have been absent from work because of the strike. Macao’s case count currently stands at 10. -/TISG
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