Govt forms taskforce to monitor coronavirus

Panaji: The state government on Monday constituted a taskforce to monitor the novel Coronavirus (nCoV) and combat it if a case is detected in Goa.

The taskforce is headed by health secretary Nila Mohanan, and comprises state epidemiologist Dr Utkarsh Betodkar, who will be the nodal officer for the directorate of health services.

The other members of the taskforce are the officials of the Goa Medical College and Hospital, the Airport Authority of India, the FDA department, the animal husbandry and veterinary services department, the Captain of Ports, the Goa police department and the tourism department.

Representatives of the water resources department and the public works department have also been included in the taskforce as also a representative of the Goa unit of Indian Medical Association who will represent Goa’s private hospitals.

“The taskforce will hold its first meeting on Tuesday to oversee the preparedness and ensure that all precautionary measures are initiated to reduce the risk. All government agencies will work in co-ordination to tackle the new virus that has originated in China’s Wuhan city,” explained one of the prominent members of the newly-formed taskforce.

Advising people not to panic, he said the state has so far not recorded any suspected case of the particular virus. The advisory and guidelines on clinical management of severe acute respiratory illness (SARI) in suspected/confirmed coronavirus cases issued by the Union ministry of health and family welfare have been shared with hospitals across Goa.

The health facilities have been asked to report the suspected cases of the deadly virus, if any.

The clinical signs and symptoms are mainly fever with a few patients having difficulty in breathing.

The MoHFW has issued an advisory for those who want travel to China. They have been advised to observe good personal hygiene, frequently wash hands with soap, and cover one’s mouth when coughing or sneezing so as to avoid close contact with people who are unwell or showing symptoms of illness, such as cough, runny nose etc.

The travellers have also been asked to avoid contact with live animals and consumption of raw/undercooked meat and to avoid travel to farms, live animal markets or where animals are slaughtered.

They have been asked to wear a mask if they have respiratory symptoms such as cough or runny nose.

And if one feels sick on the flight, while travelling back to India then he/she should inform the airliner’s crew about illness, seek mask and the self-reporting format from the crew.

He/she should avoid close contact with family members or fellow travellers and follow the directions of airline crew while disembarking.

The person ought to immediately report facts to the airport health office/immigration office and helpline number (011-23978046) also.

And if one feels sick within a span of one month after returning from China then he/she should maintain effective self-isolation at home and with others, observe good personal hygiene, practise frequent hand washing with soap and follow respiratory etiquettes.

He/she should report the illness to the nearest health facility and also inform the treating doctor regarding their travel history. [NT]