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Coronavirus Cases in India Rise to 30; All Primary Schools in Delhi to Be Closed till End of March

Image for representation only. (Reuters)

Image for representation only. (Reuters)

The Ministry of External Affairs said the India-European Union summit, scheduled to be held this month in Brussels, will be rescheduled in view of the coronavirus outbreak.

New Delhi: A man from Ghaziabad with a recent travel history to Iran tested positive for the novel coronavirus, taking the total number of such cases in the country to 30. The government on Thursday asked states to form rapid response teams at the district, block and village levels.

Officials on Thursday said another case of novel coronavirus was reported in Ghaziabad and the middle-aged man had recently travelled to Iran.

Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia announced that all primary schools in the national capital will remain closed till March 31 to prevent the possibility of the spread of coronavirus.

Till Wednesday, 29 people, including 16 Italian tourists, tested positive for coronavirus. The list includes the first three cases in the country from Kerala last month — they have been discharged following recovery.

In some relief for Telangana, blood samples of two persons that were were sent to the Pune-based National Institute of Virology (NIV) for confirmation tested negative.

Telangana Health Minister E Rajender said the samples were of a man who came from Italy and a sanitary worker at an IT company. He said a software professional from the state working in Bengaluru, who tested positive, is suspected to have contracted it in Dubai and his condition is improving. The man is currently undergoing treatment at the state-run Gandhi hospital in Hyderabad.

Meanwhile, Delhi government health officials said five people, who came in contact with the Paytm employee who works in Gurgaon and lives in west Delhi, have been tested and quarantined till their results come in. The Paytm employee who tested positive on Wednesday came in touch with 91 people in Gurgaon.

The outbreak also cast a shadow on the India-EU summit, slated to be held later this month, and will now be rescheduled. Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said India and the European Union (EU) decided to reschedule Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Brussels in view of the advice by health authorities. He also said no case of any Indian being affected by coronavirus in Iran has emerged and Indian embassies across the world are on the job to help nationals.

Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said the government is taking all steps to prevent the spread of coronavirus and the scale of interventions has been increased in alignment with the evolving situation in India where 28,529 people have been brought under community surveillance and monitoring.

Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla reviewed the status of screening procedure of people coming from neighbouring countries through land borders and urged officials to ensure round-the-clock deployment of doctors at the entry points. He also held a video conference with the chief secretaries, DGPs and other senior officials of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Sikkim, Uttarakhand and Punjab, besides the directors general of the BSF and the SSB, to take stock of the situation and steps being taken to check every person entering the country through these posts.

Amid reports of coronavirus outbreak in China affecting the Indian pharmaceutical industry, Union Chemicals and Fertilisers Minister Sadanand Gowda said there is no shortage of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs) for at least three months. APIs are raw materials required to produce medicines and are also referred to as bulk drugs.

Meanwhile, 14 Italians, who are among those who have tested positive, have been shifted to the Medanta Hospital in Gurgaon from an ITBP quarantine centre. Twenty-one Italian tourists and their three Indian tour operators were shifted from the ITBP quarantine centre here on Wednesday as they were exposed to coronavirus. An affected Italian couple is being treated at Jaipur's SMS medical college.

UP Health Minister Jai Pratap Singh said 175 people have been tested so far for coronavirus in the state, with 157 of them showing no sign of the infection. Of the remaining 18 tested, six are from Agra and one from Ghaziabad, he said, referring to the seven cases which have tested positive. The reports of the remaining 11 are yet to be received from NIV, Singh said.

Nine Italian tourists and their Indian guide, who were quarantined at a facility near Chhatarpur in Madhya Pradesh for suspected exposure to the coronavirus, were allowed to go to New Delhi after their samples were taken for examination. The tourists requested that they wanted to return to their country "at their own risk", an official said.

The Sikkim government has decided to suspend issuing Inner Line Permit (ILP) to foreign nationals following coronavirus scare as a precautionary measure. Foreign nationals are required to obtain ILP from the state government to visit Sikkim, while a domestic tourist must get permit from the Tourism and Civil Aviation Department to visit Nathula, a mountain pass in East Sikkim district which links the state with China's Tibet Autonomous Region.

(With inputs from PTI)