Shastry V. Mallady

37,758 passengers coming from abroad screened at airports

Booklet on FAQs about the latest flu brought out

MADURAI: A helpline has been kept ready at the Directorate of Public Health headquarters in Chennai as part of surveillance measures against ‘H1N1 flu,’ which was earlier called swine flu.

Besides screening passengers at the airports, State health officials are screening crew members of cargo ships in Chennai and Tuticorin ports, according to S. Elango, Director of Public Health and Preventive Medicine.

Speaking to The Hindu here on Wednesday, he said the helpline (044-24321569) would be of help to the public to alert officials in case of symptoms or suspected cases.

“We have brought out a booklet on Frequently Asked Questions about the latest flu that is reported in many countries. It is circulated to health officials for their reference,” Dr. Elango said. Ever since surveillance was stepped up at airports in the State, a total of 321 aircraft had been screened at the airports in Chennai, Tiruchi and Coimbatore.

Dr. Elango said 37,758 passengers coming from abroad were screened at the airports. At the ports in Chennai and Tuticorin, about 800 crew members of cargo ships were screened.

The Director said the Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary had a video conference with the Union Cabinet Secretary and other senior officials on May 4, in which the Centre was briefed about the measures taken in the State.

According to Dr. Elango, the Directorate had sought the cooperation of the Deputy Directors of Health Services in districts, the Deans of medical colleges and the Joint Directors to keep ‘isolation wards’ ready so that immediate medical attention could be given in case flu symptoms were reported. “The State has 5,000 triple-layer masks and 500 Personal Protective Equipment. So far, we have not received any cases in the State,” he said.