The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting in a statement on Saturday said India’s response to COVID-19 so far has been “pre-emptive, pro-active and graded”.

It said India had on January 30 put in place a comprehensive response system at its borders much before WHO declared Coronavirus a public health emergency of international concern.

Screening of incoming air passengers followed by suspension of visas and and ban on international flights was done much ahead of any other country, the statement said.

Thermal screening of incoming international passengers from China and Hong Kong started as early as January 18, much before the first case of Coronavirus was detected in India, ie, January 30 when Kerala reported the first case.

It said that “a look at the global scenario would highlight that Italy and Spain, which are devastated by COVID-19, had started screening of travellers 25 days and 39 days respectively after first reported case”.

It further said the Central government took a number of proactive measures, such as travel restrictions, adding more countries and airports for screening, suspension of visas and self quarantine measures to effectively contain, prevent and manage the spread of the COVID-19 disease.

Screening of passengers has take place at 30 airports, 12 major and 65 minor pots and land borders. Over 36 lakh passengers have been screened.

The I&B Ministry further stated that state governments have been regularly requested to maintain and further improve upon surveillance so that the coverage is complete and there are no gaps. “A meticulous system has enabled states to track down individuals who tried to avoid surveillance or who did not follow quarantine measures,” it added.

“As many as 20 video conferences by Union Health Secretary with State Governments and 6 by the Cabinet Secretary with the State Chief Secretaries have been held to review the and step up the preparedness to deal with the Corona issue. Integrated disease surveillance system, which includes monitoring of international travellers, is one of the many issues discussed in these Video Conferences,” read the statement.

Meanwhile, India witnessed the highest single-day jump with 149 new cases of Coronavirus, taking the tally to 873. Nineteen deaths have also been reported amidst the 21-day lockdown.