Special Correspondent

A three-member Rapid Response Team to cater to any exigency constituted

Pondicherry:"The centrally administered JIPMER has been declared a designated hospital for isolation and treatment of patients affected by the bird flu virus. The Government GH here has been keeping its isolation ward ready as well," Health Minister E Valsaraj said here on Tuesday.

Health authorities in Pondicherry have constituted a three-member Rapid Response Team (RRT) to cater to any exigency for diagnosis and treatment of Avian Flu (bird flu) cases, if reported from the Union Territory.

In a release, the minister said that the RRT comprised Deputy Director (Public Health), Medical Superintendent and the Head of the Microbiology Department at the Indira Gandhi Government General Hospital and PG Institute (Pondicherry).

Surveillance of risk-areas

Mr. Valsaraj said that the Departments of Animal Husbandry and Animal Welfare here had been requested to immediately refer any unnatural bird deaths to hospital authorities. Department officials have been pressed into service for proper surveillance of high-risk areas, he added.

Doctors working in Community Health Centres have also been asked to report cases of respiratory diseases, if any. Medical officers of all hospitals in Pondicherry have been appointed as nodal officers to constantly monitor the situation.

After consultation with the National Institute of Communicable Diseases, Health Department personnel have procured protective equipment, drugs and disinfectants needed for treatment. They have also been trained to collect samples from human beings suspected to have strains of the H5N1 virus, pack and transport them to respective labs. No case of bird flu has been reported from any part of Pondicherry, the minister claimed. "However, hospitals are prepared to cater to to any exigency. Microbiology and bio-chemical labs in hospitals are ready to conduct tests. The RRT will constantly review surveillance work," Mr. Valsaraj said.