Tamil Nadu

With coronavirus outbreak in China, TN asks doctors to look out for influenza-like illnesses

A file photograph of a doctor cheking a patient for fever in Tamil Nadu. Photograph used for representational purposes only

A file photograph of a doctor cheking a patient for fever in Tamil Nadu. Photograph used for representational purposes only   | Photo Credit: E. LAKSHMI NARAYANAN

The Public Health Directorate has asked doctors to look out for symptoms of respiratory infections, fever and cough and ask for the travel history of patients

With China reporting an outbreak of a novel coronavirus, the Directorate of Public Health and Preventive Medicine has instructed doctors to look out for symptoms of influenza-like illnesses, regardless of patient travel history to the affected country.

Tamil Nadu already has in place a screening mechanism for influenza-like illnesses, and doctors have been told to stay alert, look out for symptoms of respiratory infections, fever and cough and ask for the travel history of patients, according to K. Kolandaswamy, director of public health.

“Influenza-like illness is under watch in Tamil Nadu, and we have a history-taking system in place for any infectious disease. Now, we have told doctors to focus on symptoms of influenza-like illness, whether or not a patient has travel history and provide prompt treatment. People with such symptoms should report to the nearest health facility,” he added.

Health officials said the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has instructed airports that have direct connecting flights to China such as Delhi to have thermal scanners to screen travellers from China as a precautionary measure.

“The international airport in Chennai is already screening passengers for influenza-like illness, and has a self-reporting system too,” he added.

The Union Health Ministry, in a travel advisory issued earlier, said that travellers to China should follow simple public health measures at all times such as observe good personal hygiene, practise frequent hand washing with soap, cover mouth when coughing or sneezing, avoid close contact with persons who are unwell or showing symptoms of illness, and to wear a mask in case of respiratory symptoms of cough and runny nose.

The advisory asked all travellers to China, in particular to Wuhan city, to monitor their health closely. If a person felt sick on the flight while returning to India, he/she should inform the airlines crew about the illness, seek masks from the crew and follow their directions while disembarking. They should report to airport health authorities/immigration and follow the direction of the airport health officer.

If a person feels sick in a span of one month after their return from China, he/she should report the illness to the nearest health facility and inform doctors of the travel history, the advisory said.

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Printable version | Feb 18, 2020 12:21:03 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/with-coronavirus-outbreak-in-china-tn-asks-doctors-to-look-out-for-influenza-like-illnesses/article30605915.ece

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