Coronavirus: No need to panic, says PM after review meeting

FE Bureau
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As more cases of coronavirus got detected in India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday reviewed the country's preparedness to tackle the epidemic and asserted that there was "no need for panic". "Different ministries & states are working together, from screening people arriving in India to providing prompt medical attention," Modi said in a tweet. "There is no need to panic. We need to work together, take small yet important measures to ensure self-protection," he said.

The review meeting comes a day after India reported two new confirmed coronavirus cases, one each in Delhi and Telangana. This took the total cases in the country to five, weeks after it was first reported in Kerala. Separately, an Italian tourist has tested positive for coronavirus in Jaipur. The coronavirus outbreak, with its epicentre in China, has now spread to over 70 countries and killed more than 3000 globally.

The Prime Minister also shared a graphic on Twitter on what measures can be taken to protect oneself from being infected by coronavirus. Earlier in the day, Modi also met Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, in which the two leaders discussed the coronavirus spread.

On Monday, health minister Harsh Vardhan asserted that the government was prepared in advance and advised against non-essential travel to countries like China, South Korea and Italy. The government has also been monitoring the economic impact of the Coronavirus outbreak in China.

Last month, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman said sectors such as pharmaceuticals, solar and chemicals have expressed concerns about possible disruptions in imports of raw materials from China due to the Coronavirus outbreak there, and promised swift remedial measures after due consultations with the Prime Minister's Office (PMO).

After a marathon meeting with representatives of key sectors, the minister, however, ruled out an immediate spike in prices of essential commodities, especially drugs, due to any such disruption. China is India's biggest supplier of intermediate goods, worth about $30 billion annually, across sectors, mainly in pharma, electronics, textiles and chemicals, according to an internal assessment of the Confederation of Indian Industry.

For instance, China accounted for 68% of India's total purchases of bulk drugs and drug intermediates in FY19. Similarly, it makes up for about 80-90% of India's imports of mobile phone components.