Health ministry asks states to form rapid response teams to stop community transmission

Yash Shukla
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In the wake of 29 positive novel coronavirus cases reported in India, the Union Health Ministry on Thursday asked states to form rapid response teams at the district, block and village levels, stating cases of community transmission have been observed. As of now, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country stands at 29, including 16 Italian tourists.

The figure includes the first three cases in the country from Kerala last month. The three patients have since recovered. Screening of all foreign nationals has been mandated since March 4 and has started in most airports from Wednesday evening.

The process should stabilise by Thursday with additional staff being provided by the states, the ministry said in a statement. "Since, in addition to COVID 19 cases related to travel, some cases of community transmission have also been observed, it has been decided to involve district collectors and states have been asked to form rapid response teams as the district, block and village levels," the ministry said.

A total of 3,542 samples have been sent for testing, of which 29 have been found to be positive for COVID-19 till now. Testing of 92 samples is in process and 23 samples are being reconfirmed, the statement said. Private sector will also be engaged for COVID-19 management.

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan will hold a meeting with key partners in the evening. Fourteen Italians, who tested positive for coronavirus and were quarantined at an ITBP facility in Chhawla, have been shifted to the Medanta Hospital in Gurgaon.