Amid scare of Eloba virus outbreak in some West African countries claiming over 1000 lives till date, two Nigerian nationals travelling from Nigeria were admitted to a hospital in India for observation after being screen at Delhi Airport.
Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Thursday said in a statement that two Nigerian passengers, aged 24 and 27, have been admitted to Dr RML Hospital for observation after they were found having fever at the time of screening at Delhi Airport.
It went on to say that mandatory reporting of passengers from affected countries is in place and 5235 passengers have been screened at seven Airports – Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Chennai, Trivandrum and Kochi – since its inception on 10 August.
The statement however said that there is no confirmed or even suspect case of Ebola Virus Disease in India till date. It added that call centre at the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare received 45 calls in the past 24 hours and that queries from public, related to signs and symptoms of the disease and risk of travel were addressed adequately.
According to World Health Organisation (WHO), a total of 1975 cases and 1069 deaths due to Ebola Virus Disease have been reported from affected countries as on 11 August 2014. Guinea has reported 510 cases and 377 deaths, Liberia – 670 cases and 355 deaths, Sierra Leone – 783 cases and 334 deaths, and Nigeria – 12 cases and three deaths.
WHO has declared Ebola to be a “public health emergency of international concern.”
Indian Health Minister Harsh Vardhan had earlier said that the government is taking all precautions and monitoring people from countries affected by the virus coming to India. He said that there are possibilities of around 45,000 Indians staying in the affected countries to come back to the country if situation gets worse and mandatory self reporting of passengers would be required.
The Health Minister also said that airlines would make in-flight announcements on the virus and self reporting of passengers at immigration check. However, he said “there is no need to panic” as no Ebola case has been reported in India.
Meanwhile, India has asked Primus Hospital in Abuja, Nigerian branch of an Indian hospital, to return the passport of four Indian doctors who want to come back home for fear of contracting the virus, according to a report by Press Trust of India (PTI).
“The doctors are Indians. As of this time, this is not a diplomatic issue of any sort between India and Nigeria,” PTI quoted the spokesperson of the ministry of external affairs as telling reporters on Wednesday.
“It is true that there is no law which permits a hospital to keep passports of Indian nationals with them. So we have taken it up with hospital concerned and asked them to hand over the passport to Indian doctors because this is not permissible under Indian law nor permissible under local law,” he added.
According to WHO, 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.
It is an illness that affects humans and animals like monkeys, gorillas, and chimpanzees. It was first discovered in Congo and Sudan in 1976 and fruit bats are believed to be the likely host of the virus. There is no vaccine and treatment for the disease.
VIDEO: WHO responds to Ebola virus disease outbreak in West Africa
(Image Credit: Screenshot from WHO YouTube Video)