India bans visitors from China, starts screening of all incoming passengers
10 February 2020
With the toll from the new coronavrius crossing 800 in China, India’s aviation regulator has imposed restrictions on foreigners coming from that country and on those who have been to China after 15 January.
"Foreigners who have been to China on or after January 15, 2020, are not allowed to enter India from any air, land or seaport, including Indo-Nepal, Indo-Bhutan, Indo-Bangladesh or Indo-Myanmar land borders," the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) stated in a circular.
DGCA also said that all visas issued to Chinese nationals before 5 February have been suspended after the spreading coronavirus started taking its toll in other countries as well. The virus has spread to 24 countries, including India.
DGCA clarified that visa restrictions will not be applicable to the crew of any airlines, although several airlines, including Indian carriers, IndiGo and AirIndia, have suspended flights to China.
In China the virus has killed 813 people and infected more than 37,198, while the global infection count has reached 37,500.
Wuhan in China’s Hubei province, which is the epicentre of the outbreak, has reported the maximum number of deaths. According to authorities in Beijing, Hong Kong has had 25 cases, including one death, from the virus, while Macao has had 10 cases. The number of cases from coronavirus has surpassed the 2002-2003 Sars tally, which had killed 774 people and sickened 8,098 others across the world.
India has started screening of all passengers who have travelled to China since 15 January besides universal screening for all flights from Singapore and Thailand besides Hong Kong and China.
The screening of passengers is now on in all 21 airports, international seaports and border crossings. About 1,818 flights and 1,97,192 passengers were screened so far at the airports.
As of now, 9,452 persons across the country are under surveillance, although no new case have been reported. Of the 1,510 samples that have been tested, 1,507 samples were found negative except for the 3 samples from Kerala which had earlier tested positive.
The containment and prevention activities are being taken up on a war footing and all the states are continually strengthening their rapid response teams to counter any eventuality.
Ministry of health and family welfare is also extending all possible support to the states/UTs in order to combat the situation arise due to novel coronavirus.
According to a German University’s research report, India is among the most prone countries to import the virus. India has so far reported three positive cases of coronavirus, all from Kerala.
India has also evacuated more than 600 Indian nationals who were stuck in China, and all of them have been quarantined in camps managed by the Indo-Tibetan Border Police and the Indian Army near Delhi. So far, none of the evacuees has been tested positive for the virus.
However, Indian citizens still stranded in some Chinese provinces and seafarers who are trapped inside quarantined ships, as in the case of a cruise ship off Japan that has reported 61 cases, including 6 Indians, testing positive for the virus pose a problem.
Meanwhile, an AFP report citing health experts said the endangered pangolin could be the intermediary host between bats and humans for the coronavirus.
Chinese researchers investigating the animal origin of the coronavirus outbreak in China have said that the endangered pangolin may be the “missing link” between bats and humans.
A genetic analysis showed that the strain of the virus currently spreading among humans was 96 per cent identical to that found in bats.
The Sars outbreak of 2002-3, involving a different strain of coronavirus, was transferred to humans by the civet, a small mammal whose meat is considered a delicacy in China.
Many animals are capable of transmitting viruses to other species, and nearly all strains of coronavirus contagious to humans originated in wildlife, the report pointed out.