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Ebola in India: 112 Indians from Virus-Affected Country Returning Home; Is India Ready to Handle it?

Ebola Virus Disease

Ebola Virus Disease

Amid report that a man suspected to have contracted with the Ebola virus was quarantined at a hospital in Mumbai, 112 Indians, who were evacuated by the Indian embassy from the virus-affected Liberia, will land in India on Tuesday.

The Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (CSIA) spokesperson said that seven flights – Ethiopian Airline, Emirates, Etihad, Qatar Airways, Jet Airways and South African Airways – originating from Johannesburg and carrying 112 Indian nationals from Ebola-hit Liberia will land India on Tuesday. Four flights will land at CSIA directly while three have been diverted via Delhi.

The Health Ministry has said that arrangements have been made the Delhi and Mumbai airports to screen the passengers and ensure that Ebola virus doesn’t enter the country.

Civic authorities are taking precautionary measures at the airports.

“As part of the tentative plan, the aircraft will be first taken to a remote bay and all passengers will be screened at the step-ladder exit after the arrival of flights at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (CSIA),” the Mumbai International Airport Limited or MIAL earlier said in a statement obtained by NDTV.

MIAL went on to say that passengers without Ebola Virus Disease symptoms will be cleared while the suspects will be immediately taken to the designated hospital for further tests. They added that even baggage will be kept separately by the concerned airline and next passengers will be allowed to board half an hour after disinfection of the flight is carried out.

Meanwhile, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is taking outmost precaution following an alert sent by CSIA.

“We are isolating 120 beds. We have been told that more than 100 passengers are suspected to have been exposed to Ebola,” acting executive health officer (EHO) at BMC, Dr Shreedhar Kubal told the Indian Express.

“While a facility for 120 passengers is being mobilised, we expect that around 20 would need to be quarantined,’added BMC’s additional municipal commissioner Sanjay Deshmukh. He added that all the suspected passengers will be sent to Hindu Hriday Samrat Jogeshwari hospital, and those needing treatment to Kasturba hospital.

Meanwhile, a 32-year-old man, who returned to Indian from Nigeria on Sunday, was quarantined at Bal Thackeray Trauma Care Centre, Mumbai after airport officials found him to have “blood shot red eye, running nose and fever.”

“We have admitted the patient on a precautionary basis. He is otherwise asymptomatic. He does not have any of the classical symptoms of ebola. His fever is also not that high,” BMC epidemiologist Dr Mangala Gomare was quoted as saying by The Times of India. She added that blood samples of the passenger will be sent to the National Institute of Virology in Pune for further tests.

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare had earlier said in a statement that mandatory reporting of passengers from affected countries is in place in all the Indian airports. It added that there is no confirmed or even suspect case of Ebola Virus Disease in India till date.

World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared Ebola to be a “public health emergency of international concern.” It said that Ebola virus disease (formerly known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever) is a severe, often fatal illness, with a case fatality rate of up to 90 percent. The infection is transmitted by direct contact with the blood, body fluids and tissues of infected animals or people. Severely ill patients require intensive supportive care.

A statement by WHO said that a total of 142 new cases of Ebola virus disease and 77 deaths were reported from Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone between 19 and 20 August 2014, taking the total number of cases from these four countries to 2615 and 1427 deaths.

(Image Credit: Screenshot from WHO Video)

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