As the new coronavirus fear gripped Delhi, authorities on Thursday ordered immediate closure of primary schools until March 31 and launched efforts to trace people who came in contact with the Paytm employee tested positive for the virus.
A senior Delhi health department official said of the 91 people with whom the Paytm employee had come in contact with in Gurgaon, 17 are from Delhi.
"We are trying to contact the 17 people from Delhi. They will be tested for coronavirus. They have been asked to stay in isolation," the official said.
Efforts are also on to trace the people who came in contact with the Paytm employee in Noida and Connaught Place.
"The patient, a resident of Uttam Nagar, has tested positive and we have conducted tests on five persons he came in touch with. They have been quarantined at their residence," the official said.
Health authorities said they have further strengthened the medical infrastructure to deal with the situation.
Delhi health minister Satyendar Jain, who visited Lok Nayak Jaiprakash Narayan hospital to check preparedness to combat the virus, said the hospital has set up 11 separate rooms and isolation wards to treat COVID-19 patients.
The health minister said the Delhi government is also well prepared to increase the number of rooms and facilities as and when required.
He said only confirmed patients will stay in a separate room and in one room only a single patient will stay.
At the civic body level, besides setting up isolation wards in hospitals, they are also undertaking measures like conducting awareness activities in schools, sensitising resident welfare associations and forming rapid response teams.
North Delhi Mayor Avtar Singh said an isolation ward with 14 beds has been set up at NDMC-run Bara Hindurao Hospital for coronavirus patients.
He said nodal officers have been deputed at Hindurao and Kasturba hospitals to report on such cases.
The hotels under North Delhi Municipal Corporation area have been directed to report arrival of foreigners, he added.
The New Delhi Municipal Council is also conducting Information Education Communication activities in schools and sensitising office bearers of resident welfare associations about the disease.
"Considering that Lutyens' Delhi is a VVIP zone with several embassies and foreign tourists visiting Connaught Place in large numbers, we have put up posters to sensitise people and are issuing advisories detailing the dos and dont's," an NDMC official said.
"All our guest houses and hotels in the area have been asked to report about each guest coming from coronavirus-affected countries so that screening can be done to check if anybody needs to be quarantined as a precautionary measure," he said.
NDMC has also formed two rapid response teams for screening of residents who had visited coronavirus-affected countries after January 15. It has already screened 56 houses in this regard.
To prevent the possibility of spread of virus, deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia announced on Thursday that the primary classes of all schools in Delhi will remain closed till March 31.
According to Directorate of Education officials, while elaborate guidelines have been issued about preventive measures for the virus, students of nursery and primary classes are too young to understand the risk, making them more prone to infectious diseases.
Sisodia, who also holds the education portfolio, tweeted, "As a precautionary measure to prevent the possibility of spread of COVID-19 amongst our children, Delhi government has directed immediate closure of all primary schools (govt/aided/ private/MCD/NDMC) till 31/3/20(sic)."
Primary classes of Kendriya Vidyalayas in Delhi will remain closed till March 31 in view of the virus scare, officials of Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan said.
The fear of coronavirus also reached the Eidgah in Mustafabad in northeast Delhi where hundreds of riot-hit families are seeking shelter.
They have been advised to regularly wash their hands and maintain cleanliness. Volunteers provide medicines and sanitisers and health experts counselling.
The volunteers and health professionals don't say the word "coronavirus" for fear of stoking panic among the people at the camp who include a large number of children.
A lot of people have been complaining about cough, cold, vomiting and fever, said Laik Ahmad, from Doctors' Unity Welfare Association, which has set up a free health camp at the Eidgah.
"Besides medicines, we have been asking them to use masks and wash their hands. But we don't take the name 'coronavirus'. It may create panic among people who have already been going through a lot," Ahmad, 43, said.
The popular Mughal Gardens will be closed for public from Saturday, a day before its scheduled closure, in view of the virus outbreak, the Rashtrapati Bhavan said.
The Rashtrapati Bhavan has already announced it will not hold the traditional 'Holi' gatherings this year.
"Continuing the precautionary measures at Rashtrapati Bhavan in view of COVID-19 novel coronavirus, the Mughal Gardens will close for public from Saturday (March 7, 2020) to avoid any large gathering of people," it said in a statement.