Health Minister Rajesh Tope
Health Minister Rajesh Tope

Mumbai: Maharashtra government has launched a comprehensive containment plan to deal with the situation arising from the coronoavirus outbreak. In an exclusive interview with FPJ, Minister of Public Health Rajesh Tope explains government's road map.

How government is equipped to tackle coronavirus?

The state government is fully prepared to face the outbreak. Around 700 beds have been earmarked in isolation wards for the patients. A team of doctors, who were trained by the ministry of health, have been deployed in all districts to provide training to the doctors there.

They have been provided with enough medicines, medical kits, and N 95 and three layer masks to be used exclusively by the doctors and not by patients.

The state government is reviewing the situation every after two hours. Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray held interaction with the revenue divisional commissioners and district collectors instructing them to step up awareness campaign. People have been urged to keep safe distance, go in for self isolation if found symptoms and follow respiratory etiquette.

What is present state of screening at the airports?

Till date, 1,48,706 passengers that arrived in 1,295 aircraft have been screened at the Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur airports. There are 14 coronavirus positive patients, who are undergoing treatment in the state. Their infection is mild.

The screening has been further strengthened at these airports and tourist companies have been told to submit the arrival of list of tourists who are currently abroad on vacation.

Are there enough testing laboratories as people are queuing up for such tests?

Already the CM and I have appealed to the people not to queue up for tests before general laboratories as they are not qualified to do tests for coronavirus. The state is privileged to have the National Virology Institute at Pune where tests are conducted.

In addition to this, the government has allowed to conduct tests at Kasturbha hospital and Indira Gandhi Medical College, Nagpur.

The state government is seeking the centre's approval for laboratory at the Aurangabad medical college. Besides, one or two accredited labs in Mumbai may be allowed to conduct tests after the centre's nod.

Is there any plan to invoke Maharashtra Epidemic Act?

The government may invoke the provisions of the Maharashtra Epidemic Act, 1989, if the doctors have doubt about patient being positive of coronavirus, but declines to undergo tests from the National Institute of Virology, then in the in the larger interest of state, we have to forcibly get him or her admitted in the hospital.

The Act empowers the health officials to compulsorily admit any suspected patient so that infection can be avoided.

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