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The virus has spread rapidly since emerging late last year in China, killing more than 800 people in the mainland and infecting over 37,000.

Aviation regulator DGCA has stopped the pre-flight breathalyzer (BA) test for the aircrew operating out of Kerala’s four airports during the next 15 days in the wake of the deadly novel coronavirus outbreak.

The breathalyzer (BA) test measures whether a person is drunk or not.

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“The mandatory BA test for flight crew who are operating out of Kerala’s airports has been stopped for the next 15 days in light of coronavirus situation,” a senior official of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said.

He, however, added that the crew working in flights departing from any one of Kerala’s four airports – Calicut, Kannur, Trivandrum and Cochin – will compulsorily undergo post-flight BA tests at the next immediate city where they land.

India has so far reported three novel coronavirus cases, all from Kerala. The Indians tested positive for the disease are students who recently returned from China’s Wuhan city, the epicentre of the virus outbreak.

The virus has spread rapidly since emerging late last year in China, killing more than 800 people in the mainland and infecting over 37,000. Cases have been reported in two dozen other countries.

The DGCA had stated on Saturday that foreigners who have been to China on or after January 15 won’t be allowed to enter India.

The aviation regulator, in its circular to airlines on Saturday, reiterated that all visas issued to Chinese nationals before February 5 have been suspended.

However, it clarified, “These visa restrictions will not apply to aircrew, who may be Chinese nationals or other foreign nationalities coming from China.”

Among the Indian airlines, IndiGo and Air India have suspended all their flights between the two countries. SpiceJet, however, continues to fly on the Delhi-Hong Kong route.

On February 1 and February 2, Air India had conducted two special flights to Wuhan, evacuating 647 Indians and seven Maldivians.

Passengers landing in India from countries like Thailand, China, Singapore and Hongkong are being screened aggressively.

After two-three days, the second victim of Coronavirus in Kerala gets the clean chit as the test results came out negative twice. As a result, the patient was discharged from the hospital. The student has become the second person in India who is recovered from the infection, PTI reported citing state’s health authority. It also said that the third patient who was Kasaragod, who has been tested positive for the novel Coronavirus will be quarantined for ten days. The state has kept around 2,000 people under observation including the three positive cases reported.

Last week, the student from Alappuzha was relieved as his two consecutive samples sent for testing came back negative. The state has been sending out test samples to National Institute of Virology (NIV) in Pune. Both of these students discharged had come from Wuhan, the epicentre of Coronavirus in China. The country’s first Coronavirus case, on the other hand, is still waiting on the test results to come back from Pune NIV. According to the health ministry, once the lastest result comes out to be negative, the patient will be discharged.

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Meanwhile, of the total people under surveillance in Kerala, 16 patients were kept in hospital’s isolated wards while remaining 2,100 people were quarantined at home, KK Shailaja, Health Minister of Kerala had said in a statement yesterday. Even in Delhi, around 5,700 passengers were approached till February 13 for possible traces of Coronavirus. Out these people, about 4,700 people have been advised to stay at home, while, 17 people showing symptoms had been hospitalised, PTI had reported. Passengers landing in India from countries like Thailand, China, Singapore and Hongkong are being screened aggressively for any possible exposure to this fatal disease. The screenings are currently being done at 21 airports in India.