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National News
COVID-19:15 lakh air travellers entered India in 2 months, ''gap'' in actual monitoring: Cabinet Secy
 
New Delhi: Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba has asked states to immediately strengthen surveillance of international air travellers who entered India between January 18 to March 23 as there appeared to be a "gap" between those being monitored for COVID-19 and 15 lakh arrivals during the period. In a letter to chief secretaries of all States and Union Territories, Gauba said the gap in monitoring of international passengers "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," Gauba said in his letter.

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. 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. "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.

According to sources, the 15 Lakh figure pertained to only air travellers and not those entering India through seaports or international land borders. 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 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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