New Delhi: The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) yesterday reviewed India’s preparedness to combat coronavirus outbreak. The meeting comes as more than 100 people have been kept under observation in Kerala and Maharashtra to check for possible exposure to the deadly novel coronavirus.

At the meeting, which was held on the instructions of PM Narendra Modi, PK Mishra, Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister and officials of the health ministry presented an update about the response measures being undertaken in the wake of Coronavirus outbreak in China.

The cabinet secretary, home secretary, foreign secretary, defence secretary, health secretary, civil aviation secretary and several other top officials attended the meeting.

Mishra also reviewed the various preventive measures taken by other ministries, including the civil aviation ministry.An official statement said that health ministry officials briefed Mishra on the preparedness of hospitals, laboratories as well as on measures being taken for the capacity building of rapid response teams to deal with possible cases of coronavirus.

“So far, 20,000 people from 115 flights at seven international airports in the country have been screened. The National Institute of Virology labs are fully equipped to test the virus. All state and district health authorities have been alerted and are in a state of preparedness for prevention and possible management, if required”, the statement added.

Meanwhile, the death toll from the coronavirus in China — the epicenter of the outbreak has gone up to 56, with the number of confirmed cases also leaping to 1200.

Animals are suspected to be the primary source of the outbreak, with Chinese health officials saying the virus originated from a market where wild animals were illegally sold. Studies published this week suggest that the virus may have originated in bats or snakes.

The virus has caused alarm because of its similarity to SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), which killed nearly 800 people across mainland China and Hong Kong in 2002-2003. Like SARS, it can be passed among people through the respiratory tract.The first case of the new virus was confirmed on December 31, 2019.

(With agency inputs)