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1,300 passengers screened for swine flu

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Passengers at the arrival lounge being screened for swine flu at Bengaluru International Airport early on Thursday.
Passengers at the arrival lounge being screened for swine flu at Bengaluru International Airport early on Thursday.

Special Correspondent

None of these passengers had any symptoms of flu

CHICKABALLAPUR: A team of 24 doctors, working in three shifts, have screened over 1,300 international passengers for swine flu at the Bengaluru International Airport (BIA) at Devanahalli since Wednesday night.

As many as 1,321 passengers who arrived at the BIA by 13 flights, since 8 p.m. on Wednesday to 8 a.m. on Thursday were subjected to medical examination. However, none of these passengers exhibited any symptoms of swine flu, C. Anbazhagan, Regional Director, Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, told The Hindu.

Following a directive from the Civil Aviation Ministry, since Wednesday night all international airports throughout the country had started screening international passengers, particularly those arriving from the epidemic-affected regions, for the swine flu.

Dr. Anbazhagan said that as the arrival of international flights were more at night and small hours, maximum staff had been deployed during these hours.

To ensure that screening was conducted fast and passengers were not put to inconvenience, 10 counters had been set up at the airport. Each counter has a doctor and a nurse, he said.

The doctors were examining whether the passengers had developed fever and were unaware that they had temperature. Doctors were using electronic aural thermometers for the purpose. Besides, the doctors were ascertaining whether passengers had any symptoms of flu/influenza. If any passenger exhibited symptoms of flu, he or she would be referred to the isolation hospital, Dr. Anbazhagan said.

Employees of the Bangaluru International Airport Ltd (BIAL), Immigration and Customs had been assisting the medical and paramedical staff, he said while adding that the passengers were cooperating with the authorities, he said.

According to K.R. Raveendra, Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, Bangalore Medical College, there could be a swine flu outbreak, similar to SARS epidemic that occurred a few years ago, if prevention was not taken on a large scale.

Clearance certificate

Bangalore Staff Reporter reports:

International passengers would issued a clearance certificate if no symptoms were found. To this end, 20 doctors would work in three shifts along with 10 staff nurses and four lab technicians.

A decision in this regard was taken on Wednesday during a meeting held by Usha Vasunkar, Director of Health and Family Welfare.

Passengers with symptoms like fever, cough, sore throat, headache, running nose, fatigue, malaise, short of breath and difficulty in breathing would be referred to the isolation wards at the Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Chest Diseases.

Nasopharyngeal swab and blood samples would be collected from suspected patients for laboratory tests and these samples would be airlifted to the National Institute of Virology at Pune.

Meanwhile, the M.S. Ramaiah Memorial Hospital held a technical update session here on Thursday where experts from the Departments of Community Medicine, General Medicine and Paediatrics held exhaustive discussions on information available on swine flu.

S. Kumar, Principal and Dean of M.S. Ramaiah Medical College, said: “At present, only the National Institute of Communicable Diseases, New Delhi, is the only diagnostic centre which can do the tests in order to confirm the strain of the virus. The medicines are only available in the Capital. However, the situation will soon change as the facilities are expected to reach various cities in the country soon.”

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