T.N. steps up surveillance for monkeypox, ward set up in RGGGH

With Kerala reporting a confirmed case of monkeypox two days ago, Tamil Nadu has stepped up surveillance along the border areas, in four international airports in Chennai, Madurai, Coimbatore and Tiruchi, and has set up a separate 10-bed ward at the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital (RGGGH) here.

Health Minister Ma. Subramanian, Health Secretary P. Senthilkumar and Director of Public Health and Preventive Medicine T.S. Selvavinayagam inspected the screening measures at the Chennai international airport on Saturday.

“Monkeypox has now spread to 63 countries, particularly European countries, Africa and the United States,” the Minister said. The first confirmed case of monkeypox in India was reported in Kerala, in a person who returned from the UAE on July 12. “We are taking all precautionary measures along the Tamil Nadu-Kerala border,” he told reporters.

Surveillance measures for monkeypox were going on since the World Health Organisation (WHO) first put out information, he said, adding: “International travellers are being continuously monitored at the airports in Chennai, Madurai, Coimbatore and Tiruchi. Already, 2% of passengers were being subjected to mass fever screening. Along with this, it is advised to check for symptoms of monkeypox. Passengers from 63 countries are being screened for symptoms such as lesions on the face and hands,” he said.

Noting that 2% of passengers were being tested randomly for COVID-19, he said 30 to 40 flights were arriving at the Chennai international airport a day, bringing in 5,000 to 9,000 passengers during July.

“In the last 14 days, 1,00,153 passengers have arrived in 531 flights at the Chennai international airport. Of them, 1,987 persons were tested for COVID-19, of which 39 were positive,” he said.

There is continuous monitoring for symptoms of monkeypox at the four airports. As of now, no case has been reported in Tamil Nadu, he said. Information on monkeypox and a list of high-risk countries was put up at the airports and district health officials were involved in round-the-clock in surveillance. “The DPH has written to all airport authorities to continue monitoring for monkeypox,” he said, adding that measures would be taken to screen passengers arriving at the domestic airport as well.

“Recently, it was announced that through the Indian Council of Medical Research, laboratories for testing for monkeypox can be set up in 15 places in the country. Following this, the Health Secretary and DPH have asked the Union government to take steps to set up one of the laboratories in Chennai. We are hoping that our demand will be accepted,” he said.

He said after the case in Kerala, a 10-bed separate ward for monkeypox was set up at RGGGH on Friday night. “There is no need to panic,” he said.

The Minister said that COVID-19 cases had reached 1,000 in Chennai and was on the decline now. There was a small rise in other districts. “In the last 10 days, the cases are in the range of 2,000 to 2,700. There is a standstill and no big rise. Yet, we are continuing to monitor the situation,” he said.

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Printable version | Jul 17, 2022 1:10:52 am |