Three more persons tested positive for coronavirus on Saturday, taking the number of confirmed cases in the country to 34, as the government stepped up efforts to combat it with Prime Minister Narendra Modi directing officials to identify places for sufficient quarantine facilities and make provisions for critical care.
Two of these persons are from Ladakh with travel history to Iran while the other is from Tamil Nadu who had visited Oman, the union health ministry said, adding all the patients are stable.
It also said more that 150 people, who had come in contact with two American nationals who tested positive for coronavirus in Bhutan and had toured various places in India, have been put under Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP).
In the evening, the Delhi health department said a woman, who came in contact with a Paytm employee who tested positive for coronavirus, has been admitted to Safdarjung Hospital here for suspected infection.
In a bulletin, the department said she is kept under isolation at the hospital, adding confirmation is awaited.
Many states cancelled official functions to celebrate Holi and took several preventive measures to check the spread of coronavirus.
India's 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers match against Qatar scheduled for March 26 in Bhubaneswar has been postponed while Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope said "discussion" is underway on whether the IPL, set to start from March 29 in Mumbai with a match between Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings, should be postponed in view of the coronavirus scare.
During the day, Modi reviewed the coronavirus situation in the country at a meeting with officials of all ministries and departments concerned and also directed them to identify locations for sufficient quarantine facilities.
He told them that in view of expert opinion, people should be advised to avoid mass gatherings as much as possible and made aware of the do's and don'ts.
While complimenting all departments for the work done so far, Modi stressed that as the coronavirus scenario evolves, India has to be prepared in its response.
He highlighted the need for advanced and adequate planning, and timely response which is critical for managing this infectious disease.
The health ministry in a statement said that the officials were instructed to plan for early testing and evacuation of Indians from Iran where, according to reports, 145 people have died so far due to COVID-19.
On Saturday, an aircraft from Tehran brought to Delhi swab samples of Indians in Iran who are suspected of having the coronavirus infection. The flight, operated by Mahan Air, then returned with many Iranian nationals.
These samples are being tested at the laboratory in AIIMS, the ministry said.
Also, six scientists from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) have been stationed in Iran. Equipment and reagents, worth approximately Rs 10 crore have been dispatched to enable them to setup a lab there.
An Airport Authority of India (AAI) spokesperson said passengers from 12 countries would be segregated at international airports.
These countries are China, South Korea, Japan, Italy, Iran, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Hongkong, Vietnam, Nepal and Indonesia.
According to the spokesperson, the passengers from the 12 countries would not be allowed to mix with other passengers during "health screening, immigration and conveyer belt areas".
In Goa, two foreign nationals were quarantined in Goa Medical College and Hospital for suspected exposure to the novel coronavirus. Their samples have been sent to National Institute of Virology in Pune.
Barring those of an Italian couple, all the 280 samples collected from suspected coronavirus cases in Rajasthan have tested negative, officials said.
The Odisha government put restrictions on foreign visit of ministers and senior officers and also exempted its employees from using the biometric system to mark their attendance until further orders.
The Union health ministry said a total number of 7,26,122 people from 7,108 flights have been screened at airports. Since Friday morning, 73,766 passengers from 573 flights have undergone screening at airports.
It also said that as many as 52 laboratories are now operational across the country for testing COVID-19 virus. An additional 57 laboratories have been provided with Viral Transport Media and swabs for sample collection.
In order to spread awareness, special COVID-19 mobile phone caller tune was launched by all telecom operators with basic infection prevention messages played when a caller dials-out.
Over 117.2 crore subscribers of BSNL, MTNL Reliance Jio, Airtel and Vodafone-Idea are being progressively reached out to through SMSs and call backs, the ministry said.
Till Friday, there were 31 positive cases, including 16 tourists from Italy and their Indian guide.
Among these positive cases include a 45-year-old man from Delhi's Mayur Vihar and six of his relatives from Agra whom he had recently visited. Another is a Paytm employee who works in Gurgaon and lives in west Delhi. They are all being treated at the Safdarjung hospital.
A middle-aged man from Ghaziabad, who tested positive for the virus, is being treated at the Ram Manohar Lohia hospital in the national capital. A 24-year-old man from Hyderabad, who has also tested positive for coronavirus, has been isolated.
The total figure of positive cases includes the first three reported from Kerala last month. All the three persons have been discharged following recovery.
On Friday, a man from Delhi with a travel history to Thailand and Malaysia tested positive. Eleven people, including seven of his family members, have been quarantined at their residence in west Delhi.