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March 4, 2020 11:43 pm

JK Govt Steps Up Coronavirus Vigil

KO Photo: Abid Bhat

SRINAGAR - The Jammu and Kashmir government on Wednesday stepped up efforts to tackle any possible spread of the coronavirus to the Union Territory, appointing a senior official as the head of the task force to coordinate its efforts.

Bhupinder Kumar, the Director of the National Health Mission, was appointed as the incharge of the coronavirus control efforts in the union territory, an order issued by General Administration Department said.

The divisional commissioners of Kashmir and Jammu regions have been made incharge of the programme in their respective areas of jurisdiction.

The move comes in the wake of a sudden spike in positive cases of coronavirus affected persons in the country.

The government has directed officials to set up detection centre's at all entry points including airports and railway stations.

Besides creation of quarantine and isolation facilities, the government has also directed for proper surveillance of people who have been put under home quarantine.

DAK Sounds Alert

With 28 confirmed cases of novel coronavirus in India and positive cases reported in New Delhi, Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK) on Wednesday asked health authorities in Kashmir valley to prepare for contingencies.

“We need to intensify screening at entry points and enhance surveillance,” said DAK President Dr Nisar ul Hassan.

“The passengers at Srinagar international airport should be screened by using thermal devices which spots people with fevers rapidly with no skin contact minimizing the risk of contagion,” he said adding “thermal devices are used for mass screening of travellers to detect those who might be infected with coronavirus.”

Dr Nisar said passengers should be asked about their travel history, symptoms and any history of contact with a suspected or a confirmed case.

“For those without symptoms, health information cards should be given to them with an advice to seek medical attention in case they develop symptoms of illness,” he added.

He further said the passengers should also be screened at Lower Munda Qazigund as majority of travellers enter the valley by surface transport.

Dr Nisar said we need to step up surveillance - we need to find cases early, isolate them and treat them and trace their contacts.

“Hospital preparedness is key to public safety in case virus gets in. Health institutions should be ready to deal with potential coronavirus patients,” he said.

“Although there is no positive case in the valley, we should not be complacent as the threat is real,” Dr Nisar said.

“It would be a fatal mistake if we assume that the virus will not hit us,” he cautioned.

Dr Nisar said the novel coronavirus that has emerged in China in late December last year has spread to 60 countries. The deadly virus has killed at least 3,203people and infected more than 93,000 worldwide so far.

“The virus spreads by respiratory droplets generated when an infected person coughs or sneezes,” he said.

“The clinical manifestation of the virus are fever, cough and cold and in severe cases difficulty in breathing.

With no cure or vaccine for the virus, people should continue to take precautions like hand washing and cough etiquette that would help prevent the spread of the virus,” said Dr Nisar.

2 People With Travel History To Italy, S Korea Quarantined At GMC Jammu

Two passengers with a travel history to Italy and South Korea have been shifted to the quarantine ward at a government medical college hospital in Jammu, officials said on Wednesday.

Jammu and Kashmir has been put on alert to deal with any threat emerging due to coronavirus, even though no positive case has been found in the Union Territory so far, officials said.

The tests of the two persons have been sent to Delhi and symptomatic passengers have been instructed for home quarantine, they said.

Around 200 people have been identified with travel history to coronavirus-affected countries or those who have had contact with persons from such countries, the officials said.

Twenty-one suspected cases have been tested till date and "no positive case has been reported so far across J-K", a senior official said.

"A 100 per cent self declaration at the airports of Jammu and Srinagar will start from Thursday to trace any such person having travel history to the infected countries," he said.

"Further, check points for passengers travelling by road have been set up at Lakhanpur and Lower Munda (Zig) to identify individuals with travel history to these countries," he added.

Also, 24x7 data control centres have been established at Srinagar and Jammu to receive information on travellers coming from the coronavirus-affected countries, Principal Secretary, Planning and Information Rohit Kansal said, adding that all suspected cases are being managed through defined protocols.

Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba held a meeting with chief secretaries and health secretaries of states and UTs through video conference to review their preparedness to deal with coronavirus.

The Union health secretary and other senior functionaries of the Government of India also participated in the meeting.

While interacting with them, the cabinet secretary sought details of arrangements put in place for containment of COVID-19.

The states and UTs have been asked to scrupulously follow the guidelines issued by the Union Health Ministry with regard to surveillance and contact tracing, surveillance at entry points, sample collection, packaging and transport, clinical management protocol and infection prevention and control in healthcare facilities.

The cabinet secretary asked the chief secretaries to review, assess and monitor the arrangements in the states and UTs, and ensure adequate quarantine, isolation facilities and equipment are available to deal with suspected or confirmed cases as per the mandated protocol.  (With PTI Inputs)

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