10 August 2014

India institutes Ebola preparedness measures

The Indian government is performing "intensive surveillance" to prevent the spread of Ebola virus disease (EVD) in the country. There are three local helpline numbers: 2306 3205, 2306 1469 and 2306 1302 operational as of 9 August at the Health Ministry to field calls.

Dr Harsh Vardhan, Minister for Health, has clarified that India does not have any confirmed or suspected Ebola victims. However, WHO had informed the government that one Indian passenger had travelled on the same flight on which an Ebola virus patient had travelled on, from Monrovia in Liberia to Lagos in Nigeria. Both countries are dealing with EVD outbreaks.

Thirty calls have been fielded so far. “Most of the callers to the helpline reflected a mature understanding of the collective responsibility in times like this. They wanted to know details about the symptoms and preventive measures,” Dr Vardhan said.

According to the government, the Indian passenger is back in India and being monitored. The Health Minister said: “We are happy to share that the said person is healthy, fit and fine.”

The government has already implemented the following steps:

1. Tracking of passengers arriving from the affected countries by the Airport Health Organizations based on the information provided by Ministry of External Affairs

2. Tracking and monitoring health of passengers, who travelled from the affected countries, in their respective States, by the Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme.

3. Designation of Dr. RML Hospital, New Delhi for management of cases in Delhi. The hospital has earmarked treatment facilities and a Nodal Officer.

4. The Government has advised Indians against non-essential travel to the four West African countries – Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria – which form the epicentre of EVD.

Read about the WHO announcement and the response from airlines here.