Aarti Dhar

NEW DELHI: With the World Health Organisation designating swine influenza outbreak as a public health emergency of international concern, India on Monday put on alert all international airports and ports for identifying persons with suspected infection who could be arriving from countries affected.

Those travelling to affected areas have also been advised to defer non-essential journeys. Instructions were issued to track down people who arrived in India from Mexico, the U.S., Canada, New Zealand, Spain, France and the United Kingdom.

“Keeping in view the global scenario, the government is instituting a series of preventive action that includes surveillance at ports and international airports. Surveillance [will be] through the integrated disease surveillance units in the States,” V. M. Katoch, Director-General, Indian Council of Medical Research, told reporters after a meeting of the joint monitoring group here.

All passengers coming to India from the affected areas will be mandatorily screened for influenza symptoms while for others it will be voluntary.

All States were advised to review their preparedness.

“Since the disease has originated outside India, we have no reason to believe that pigs in India are carrying the disease, hence we are monitoring the movement of the people coming here from the affected countries,” Vineet Chowdhry, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said.

Dr. Katoch said: “We have drafted a proforma which will be given to the passengers for voluntary declaration of any flu symptoms like fever, and cough. If he or she develops any symptoms subsequently, it can be reported to the authorities or on telephone no. 23921401, which is a toll-free number at the National Institute of Communicable Diseases.”

A round-the-clock call centre under the Integrated Disease Surveillance Project (No. 1075) will also be attending to calls from the public.