India is also offering help with evacuating people from affected areas.

On Feb. 7, foreign minister S Jaishankar informed parliament that India had offered to evacuate students from all its neighbouring countries, including Pakistan, studying in Wuhan. “This was an offer made to all our neighbours but only seven nationals of Maldives chose to avail the offer,” Jaishankar had said.

India had despatched aircraft of the state-owned Air India on Feb. 1 and Feb. 2 to Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak. So far, over 600 Indians have been evacuated from China.

On Monday, in a letter to prime minister Narendra Modi, Chinese president Xi Jinping praised India for offering solidarity and assistance to deal with the outbreak. Xi said the “efforts fully demonstrated” friendship between New Delhi and Beijing.

On Feb. 2, Maldives foreign minister Abdulla Shahid had also expressed his gratitude to Modi for helping seven Maldivian nationals come out of China.

High alert at home

Back home, efforts are underway to prevent coronavirus from spreading.

“We are monitoring and reviewing the situation daily. The government has conducted training for the officers of ports, airports and border crossing points and has sensitised them on the management of higher risk pathogens such as Ebola and coronavirus,” Vardhan told parliament yesterday. “They have been equipped with personal protective equipment.”

He further informed that the Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP) has been geared up to track and follow up on passengers coming from China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore.

However, a report by news agency ANI claimed that the Modi government is in a need for more safety kits to fight the outbreak.

“As of now, adequate stocks of logistics including PPE (personal protective equipment) is available. State governments have also been advised on the necessary precaution to be taken up on the issue,” the report quoted health ministry officials. “Presently there is no crisis like shortage of PPE. But, storing an adequate quantity of PPE in advance is always a better way to deal with the crisis, if the need arises. We have estimated the requirement of about 50,000 PPE kit for the doctors.”

The death toll in China from the novel coronavirus epidemic has surpassed 1,000 and the number of confirmed cases has risen to over 40,000.

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