COVID-19: Cabinet Secretary asks States to strengthen surveillance of international travellers urgently

Rajiv Gauba said there appeared to be a ‘gap’ between actual monitoring for COVID-19 and the total arrivals.

Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba has asked states to urgently strengthen the surveillance of international travellers who entered the country before the lockdown as there appeared to be a “gap” between the actual monitoring for COVID-19 and the total arrivals.

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In a letter to chief secretaries of all States and Union Territories, Mr. Gauba said such a gap in monitoring of international passengers for coronavirus “may seriously jeopardise the efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19”, given that many amongst the persons who have tested positive so far in India have history of international travel.

“As you are aware, we initiated screening of international incoming passengers at the airports with effect from January 18, 2020. I have been informed that up to March 23, 2020, cumulatively, Bureau Of Immigration has shared details of more than 15 lakh incoming international passengers with the States/UTs for monitoring for COVID-19.

“However, there appears to be a gap between the number of international passengers who need to be monitored by the States/UTs and the actual number of passengers being monitored,” Mr. Gauba said in his letter.

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The government had started monitoring of all international passengers who have arrived in India in last two months in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

Mr. Gauba said,”it is important that all international passengers are put under close surveillance to prevent the spread of the epidemic.”

He said the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) has repeatedly emphasised the importance of monitoring, and requested the states and UTs to take immediate steps in this regard.

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“I would, therefore, like to request you to ensure that concerted and sustained action is taken urgently to put such passengers under surveillance immediately as per MoHFW guidelines,” he said.

The cabinet secretary also urged the chief secretaries to actively involve the district authorities in this effort.The screening of international incoming passengers at airports was done from January 18 in a phased manner.

The Central and state governments have unleashed unprecedented and extraordinary measures to contain the spread of the fast-spreading coronavirus, which has already infected more than 700 people in the country and claimed at least 17 lives.

A nationwide lockdown was also announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday for 21 days.

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