Coronavirus outbreak: At Manesar, Indian Army sets up facility for students returning from China

Sakshi Dayal

The facility has been divided into sectors, each with a maximum capacity of 50 students. Twitter/PTI

Over the past three days, the Indian Army has set up a quarantine facility “in an area isolated away from the population” in Manesar to house students being brought back to India from China’s Wuhan, in light of the coronavirus outbreak. “It’s been set up away from the population in temporary barracks. The facility’s basic structure already existed, but we started setting it up as a quarantine facility on the evening of January 27. The facility is now ready to receive evacuees,” said an official.

The facility is supposed to house approximately 300 students, and includes accommodation barracks, administrative areas and a medical facility area.

“To prevent mass outbreak, it has been divided into sectors, each with a maximum capacity of 50 students. Each sector has been further subdivided into barracks. The population of sectors will not be allowed to intermingle with each other. Apart from playing games, watching TV and having meals together within a barrack, no one will be allowed to interact with the members of another barrack and definitely not another sector,” the Army said in a press release.

A screening at the airport itself, by a joint team of the Armed Forced Medical Services (AFMS) and Airport Health Authority (AHPA), will determine who among those arriving will be quarantined at the Manesar facility.

Officials said evacuees will be sorted into three categories — ‘suspect case’, which would include people with signs of fever, cough or respiratory distress; ‘close contact’, which would imply individuals not displaying symptoms, but who have visited a seafood-animal market, a health facility, or have come into contact with a Chinese person with symptoms in the last fortnight; and ‘non-contact case’, which includes people not fitting into the other two categories.

While those slotted under ‘suspect case’ will be transported to the isolation ward at Base Hospital Delhi Cantonment (BHDC), those in the other two categories will be sent to the Manesar facility, where they will remain for 14 days as they are monitored for signs of infection, with their medical examination being conducted on a daily basis.

Officials said the facility will be administered by a nominated officer in-charge, who will head a team of a community medicine specialist, two nursing officers, a woman medical officer, and a nursing assistant. To prevent the spread of the virus, healthcare workers and staff will wear personal protective equipment, which includes masks, eye shields, shoe covers, gowns and gloves. Other visitors and all residents will be made to wear a “three-layered mask” at all times.

“No civilian or serving personnel detailed to work inside the facility will be allowed to go outside unless compelled by an extreme emergency situation,” states the release.

At the end of the 14-day period, those with no symptoms will be allowed to return home, with their “detailed documentation” being sent to the district and state surveillance units for further surveillance. Those found to be infected will be shifted to the isolation ward at BHDC for further examination and recovery. The samples of the latter will also be sent to NCDC, Delhi for viral confirmation, and they will be discharged “only after clinical recovery and two successive negative samples tested for n-COV”.

The Union Health Ministry has urged people to avoid non-essential travel to China. It has installed facilities for thermal screening at 21 airports and has issued advisories to the shipping and aviation sectors. The government has stepped up efforts to monitor such cases and prevent the spread of the virus.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).
The novel coronavirus (nCOV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.

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