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“Very, very high” risk of Ebola in India: U.S. expert

An infectious diseases and public health systems expert at Harvard Medical School has warned that the risk of India seeing an Ebola patient is “very, very high.”

He predicted that India may well have “at least a few cases before the calendar year is over.”

“As long as the outbreak continues in West Africa, the chances that someone will end up in India and then develop symptoms are very high,” Ashish Jha, Professor of International Health at Harvard’s School of Public Health and Director of Harvard Global Health Institute, told The-Hindu in an exclusive email interview.

‘India not prepared’

Professor Jha also noted that in terms of preparedness to deal with a potential epidemic, “the bottom line is that India is probably not as prepared as it should be.”

He said that when the first case crops up, it would likely be at a public hospital in some mid-size or large city, where there may be serious questions about whether the institution had provided sufficient training to manage someone, even temporarily, until substantial expertise could be brought in.

Further, Professor Jha said, he would want to know whether the hospitals had “proper protective equipment they need to care for [an] Ebola patient,” adding that he “worried” about whether hospitals across the country, even those designated as regional centres of excellence in each State, were “really getting the training they need to be safe and effective.

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