NEW DELHI: The number of confirmed Covid-19 patients in India rose to 74 on Thursday with 57 Indians and 17 foreigners testing positive for the virus while the government maintained there was “no community transmission observed” so far and urged people to follow advisories and not panic.
India has so far witnessed local transmission of coronavirus infection where people with travel history have passed on the virus to others who came in contact. However, a further spread to others in the community is considered critical as it poses greater challenges to contain transmission which has been seen in many other countries and is called “community transmission”.
Explaining the decision to suspend most visas, imposing a quarantine on India, Jaishankar said “exceptional situations require exceptional response”. Allaying fears of opposition MPs, the minister said Indians abroad were being assisted and efforts were underway to bring them back safely.
“Luckily, in India, we do not have any community transmission. We have only a few cases that have come from outside and they have primarily affected their close family members,” Lav Aggarwal, joint secretary in the health ministry, said in a briefing.
The government is working on a war footing to tackle spread of the virus, which has reached around 114 countries and infected over a lakh people. The World Health Organisation has declared it a global pandemic.
Around 1,500 people have been put under observation who came in contact with 74 positive cases tested so far, whereas over 30,000 people across the country are under community surveillance.
In a precautionary move, the government on Wednesday suspended all visas for a month, except a few like diplomatic, UN organisations and employment visas. The government had on Wednesday informed of 60 positive cases in the country.
While 948 people have been evacuated and quarantined for 14 days, around 130-150 Indians are likely to be evacuated from Iran by Saturday, a senior official from the civil aviation ministry said. The government will undertake three such evacuations to bring back Indians stranded there.
“The first from Iran will reach Mumbai airport around 12.30pm tomorrow. The second will be on March 15 and arrive at Delhi airport. The third is likely to be on March 16 or 17,” the official said.
The 83 evacuees from Italy who arrived in India on Wednesday have been housed at the Manesar quarantine facility. All patients in hospitals are being treated and reported to be stable, officials said. Till now, 11,14,025 people have been screened at 30 designated airports in India, the health ministry said.