Authorities have set up three screening camps at separate locations along the India-Nepal border in West Bengal’s Darjeeling district in view of the coronavirus outbreak that has killed 56 people in China.

Officials said the camps have been set up as there could be some Nepalese nationals who may travel to India after having visited China recently. Darjeeling borders Nepal. Thousands of people crossover to Darjeeling from Nepal daily for trade, tourism, and health care.

Chief medical officer (Darjeeling) Praloy Acharya said they have displayed notices at these camps, asking those suffering from fever and cough to report for a checkup.

The staff posted at the camps have been instructed to send those detected with coronavirus related symptoms to the nearest hospitals. “An isolation ward has also been created at North Bengal Medical College and Hospital in Siliguri, the largest referral hospital near the India-Nepal border,” said Acharya.

An officer of the Sashatra Seema Bal, which mans the India-Nepal border, said they were closely monitoring the movement of people and assisting the health department.

A Siliguri businessman, who visited China six months ago, said many local traders regularly visit that country and some of them return via Nepal. “Since there are no direct flights between [the region’s main] Bagdogra airport and any Chinese city, people have to take flights from Kolkata, Delhi or Kathmandu [Nepal]. One cannot rule out the risk of infection,” said the businessman, who did not want to be named.

Union health minister Harsh Vardhan has written to all state chief ministers, requesting their personal intervention in reviewing preparedness for control and management of coronavirus.

Central teams will visit seven states, including West Bengal, where screening is being done at airports in view of the outbreak.

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