M.L. Thomas, our regional director in India, sent this account of how that country is battling the coronavirus — beginning with early intervention.
India started taking action on this epidemic in the middle of January, at least two weeks before the World Health Organization declared it an emergency of international concern.
To date, no deaths due to coronavirus have reported in India.
As of today (5 March), the total number of people infected by coronavirus in India is 29, including 15 Italian nationals; they were the part of a travel group to Jaipur in the State of Rajasthan and Delhi.
India’s involvement with the virus began with three confirmed cases reported from Kerala out of 1,700 people tested. All of those three have now fully recovered.
The country has been very proactive in confronting the virus. In early February, India sent an Air India aircraft to Wuhan, China, where the first cases of the virus were reported, and evacuated 600 Indians. All of them were monitored, and tested negative.
India is now monitoring the new outbreak at the highest level to prevent an epidemic. Those measures include thermal screening of passengers coming from mainland China, Thailand, Singapore, Japan and South Korea at airports. Seaports are monitoring visitors, as well, collecting detailed medical and travel history and then sharing that that information with state-level and district-level surveillance officers to keep tabs on them. The government has announced that all international passengers arriving in India will have to undergo screening at all airports and seaports.
There has been very good coordination with all state governments to monitor the epidemic.
The country has set up 15 laboratories to test for the virus; it has the potential to build up to 50 labs if needed.
Travel advisories have been issued, telling people to refrain from traveling to China and other affected countries.
The Union Health Ministry issued an advisory to all schools in the country asking them to avoid any large gathering of students in their premises. Any student or staff with travel history to any affected areas in the world — or those have been in touch with any person suspected of having the coronavirus in the last 28 days — should be monitored and quarantined at home for 14 days. Teachers have been asked to stay vigilant for any possible symptoms among students and fellow staff, such as coughing, fever and shortness of breath.
In short, every concerned ministry is actively involved in ensuring that India closes every possible loophole that can allow the virus to enter the country.