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Government issues alert for early detection of Ebola Virus

Union health minister Dr Harsh Vardhan told Parliament on Wednesday that advisories were issued to the State Disease Surveillance Units to be on alert for early detection and management of travel related Ebola virus cases reported from the community. While the risk of Ebola virus cases in India is low, measures are in place to deal with any case of the virus, he said.

In a statement, he said in view of the reports of outbreak of the disease in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria in West Africa, it is recommended that non-essential travel to these countries be deferred till such time that the situation is brought under control.

He reassured Parliament that though there is no vaccine or curative therapy for this disease, outbreaks can be contained through early detection and isolation of cases, contact tracing and monitoring, and following rigorous procedures for infection control. Laboratory capacity was also strengthened at the National Institute of Virology, Pune and National Centre for Disease Control, Delhi, to diagnose this disease. The World Health Organization (WHO) has reported 1603 cases including 887 deaths (as of August, 4, 2014) in West Africa from Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria.

The minister clarified that as of now, the risk of transmission to countries outside African region is low. However, as a matter of abundant precaution, the government would be obtaining details of travellers originating or transiting from Ebola virus affected countries to India from the concerned Airlines and Indian Missions and tracking these persons after their arrival in India, up to their final destination in the country.

He said mandatory self reporting by the passengers coming from or transiting through the affected countries would be required at the time of immigration check. In-flight announcements regarding this would also be made by the Airlines. There would be designated facilities at the relevant airports/ports to manage travellers manifesting symptoms of the disease. The surveillance system would be geared up to track these travellers for four weeks and to detect them early, in case they develop symptoms. These persons would also be advised to self report in case of symptoms.

All States and Union Territory administrations are being requested to identify nodal officers and designate hospitals with isolation wards for responding to any possible cases. He said the Director General of Health Services has reviewed the situation in May and on August 1. The Ministry of External Affairs has informed that there are about 4700 Indians in Republic of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone from where maximum cases are reported. The number in each of these countries is 500, 3000 and 1200 respectively.

The figure for Liberia includes about 300 personnel from the Indian Central Reserve Police Force, comprising largely women, as a part of the UN Peace keeping operations. Nigeria has a much larger presence of nearly 40,000 Indian citizens. If the situation worsens in the affected countries, there could be possibility of these Indians travelling back to India. The Ministry of Defence has said that there are about 7000 Indian troops deployed in the African continent, but not in the affected countries.

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Printable version | Dec 1, 2020 2:59:35 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/government-issues-alert-for-early-detection-of-ebola-virus/article6288093.ece

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