On a day an Italian tourist tested positive for novel coronavirus, taking the total number of cases in India to six so far, Prime Minister Narendra Modi assured citizens there was “no need to panic” and released a 24×7 helpline number (+91 1123978046) and email id (email@example.com) to report any suspected cases and to seek further help.
A call to the helpline was quickly answered by a staffer at the control room, who claimed to be from the Health Ministry. The executive first asked about my travel history and if I had been to any of the coronavirus-affected countries in the past 20-30 days. He then asked about my symptoms and noted down the name and the nature of the grievance.
On being told that I have been coughing and sneezing for the past two days, the executive recommended going to a general physician as 99 per cent of such cases happen due to the weather change. “If it does not subside after two-three days, you can visit our health officer who will do a free check-up and conduct tests for coronavirus,” the executive said.
There is no need to panic. We need to work together, take small yet important measures to ensure self-protection. pic.twitter.com/sRRPQlMdtr
He then gave me the number of a doctor from West Delhi (where I stay) and asked me to consult him for further guidance. The executive explained that Delhi has been divided into 16 zones where a doctor will be available round-the-clock.
The executive further said the check-up and tests were free of cost and if required the suspected patient may be sent to a nearby quarantine facility or advised home isolation depending on the doctor’s recommendation.
A 10-member team runs the helpline facility and it will be increased to 15 in the coming days due to the rise in the number of panic calls from various parts of India. The executive said the helpline number was also open to Indians residing abroad.
“Our work is to see who can give better facility for treatment of coronavirus near your home,” he said.
On Monday, the Union Health Ministry reported two new cases of COVID-19, one in Delhi and another in Hyderabad. Several state governments have stepped up efforts to detect and check the spread of the infection, which has killed more than 3,000 people globally.
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