14-day isolation for arrivals from China
India has set up two quarantine camps to house for 14 days several hundred nationals expected to fly in from China amid concerns that “carriers” — infected but asymptomatic people — might spread the novel coronavirus.
The army has created a 300-bed facility near Manesar (Haryana) and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police have set up a 600-bed facility at their Chawla camp in west Delhi where the arriving people will be monitored daily for two weeks.
The health ministry has dispatched a medical team on an Air India flight that is expected to evacuate 366 Indian citizens from Wuhan. All the men will be housed at the Manesar camp while the women and children will be at the Chawla camp.
Anyone with symptoms of the novel coronavirus will be shifted to either the Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital or the Safdarjung Hospital.
“Strict quarantine is important and needs to be well-enforced. They are coming from Wuhan and some of them could be infected with the coronavirus,” said G. Arunkumar, a senior virologist at the Manipal Institute of Virology in Karnataka.
Since its emergence in Wuhan, the novel coronavirus had killed 170 people and caused illness in over 8,000 people in China till Thursday. Of the 82 cases detected in 18 other countries till Thursday, 7 had been detected while they were in the asymptomatic stage, the WHO said.
India’s health ministry has said a student in Kerala who recently returned from China has tested positive for the novel coronavirus and that the test results of others are expected. The National Institute of Virology, Pune, has received four to 10 test requests daily this week.
Experts have cautioned that India’s best chance of containing the spread of any imported case of the novel coronavirus would lie in snaring the carriers at entry or through quarantine.
Those at the two quarantine camps will be allowed to go home if they show no symptoms after 14 days. Their details and addresses will be sent to local district surveillance units for continued follow-up, if required.
Patients diagnosed with the coronavirus will be discharged from hospital only after they have recovered and two successive samples are negative for the virus.
The quarantine camps have facilities for meals, television and indoor games.
A WHO panel that declared an international emergency on Thursday said it believed “it is still possible to interrupt the virus spread, provided that countries put in place strong measures to detect disease early, isolate and treat cases, trace contacts, and promote social distancing measures commensurate with the risk”.