All Wuhan evacuees test negative for coronavirus: Ministry. (Photo: Kuntal Chakrabarty/IANS). Image Source: IANS News

Lucknow, Feb 14 : Even though all eight suspected cases of the deadly coronavirus have tested negative, the Uttar Pradesh government is not taking any chance when it comes to preparedness.

"We need to remain prepared because of the porous UP-Nepal border. One case has been reported from Nepal and we are not taking any chances," said UP Health Minister Jai Pratap Singh.

According to sources, students who have returned from China in the past one month are under the scanner.

"We have directed all families of these students to immediately report if any symptoms of the virus are seen," said a senior medical official.

The state government has put on alert all districts on the UP-Nepal border.

Dr R N Singh, campaigner, Mission Save in India, said, "The virus is deadly and has already claimed lives in many countries. A case has been reported from Nepal, too. We share 1,751- km long open border with Nepal and checking virus only at the airport and not on borders will be an exercise in futility. Health check-posts have been established at entry points on Indo-Nepal border to check the entry of virus in the country." Checking for virus has already started at airport but open border between the two countries is also being monitored, he said.

Medical experts in the region feel that there is an urgent need to create awareness about the deadly virus in the area, especially in the rural interiors.

The symptoms of Coronavirus are similar to any other upper-respiratory infection, including runny nose, coughing, sore throat, and sometimes a fever.

"When the symptoms appear, people believe that it is a normal flu which is normal in this season. It is only when the condition gets beyond repair that people come to hospitals and by then, the patient is firmly in grip of coronavirus," said Dr M M Sahay, a local medical practitioner.

Gorakhpur, which is close to Indo-Nepal border, has a sizeable population that commutes daily to Nepal through Sunauli and Badhni borders. Steps have already been initiated for screening of the virus at the airport but experts believe that health check-up along the open border is more important to check its entry in India.

Dr R N Singh further said that health check posts should be set up, along the UP-Nepal border just like it had been done during the SARS epidemic in 2002.

"Around half-a-dozen cases of Coronavirus have also been detected in Thailand. Many people from here also go to Thailand and people from the country visit Gorakhpur. Health check-posts are the need of the hour," he said.

Meanwhile, medical officials said that an isolation ward had been set up at district hospitals.

"As of now, no case of coronavirus has been reported in Gorakhpur but the department is ready to deal with the situation," the official said.

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