The government on Friday said it has directed all 12 major ports to immediately put in place screening, detection and quarantine system for disembarking seafarers and cruise passengers as a preventive measure against the coronavirus outbreak.
The direction comes against the backdrop of the virus — which first emerged in Wuhan city in China’s central Hubei province — spreading to 25 countries, including India (three confirmed cases have been reported from Kerala).
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The Ministry of Shipping said it has issued necessary directions to the 12 major ports to “place a screening, detection and quarantine system immediately for disembarking Seafarers or Cruise Passengers”.
Directions have also been issued to ports to procure N-95 masks as well as thermal scanners to screen passengers, besides obtaining self-declaration from arriving crews/passengers, it said in a statement.
“Between January 27 and February 6, 2020, 85 ships form China and 4274 passengers have been screened,” it said.
Daily reporting is being done to Cabinet Secretariat about the status of vessels at major ports and screening of crew members and passengers.
Major ports have taken a number of steps, including issuing standard operating procedure (SoP) for surveillance of vessels and crew besides management of passengers, it added.
The measures include isolation wards at port hospital and premises, throat swab collection by district authority and referral to higher centres in severe cases, the government said.
To create awareness, the ports have also taken IEC (information, education and communication) activities through electronic/print media, besides LED display boards at port trusts and hospitals, it added.
India has 12 major ports — Kandla, Mumbai, JNPT, Marmugao, New Mangalore, Cochin, Chennai, Ennore, V O Chidambarnar, Visakhapatnam, Paradip and Kolkata (including Haldia) which handle approximately 61 per cent of the country’s total cargo traffic.
The death toll in China’s novel coronavirus epidemic has risen to 636 with 73 new mortalities reported, mostly from the worst-affected Hubei province, while the total number of confirmed cases has crossed 31,000, as per Chinese health officials.