Ebola suspect traced to Delhi

No need for panic, says health minister

Ebola suspect traced to Delhi

A suspected case of Ebola virus has been traced to south-west Delhi’s Dwarka area and has been kept under watch. The person, however, has not shown any symptoms since the last 18 days and the Health Ministry has refused to press the panic button.

The ministry was alerted by the World Health Organisation (WHO) about a traveller who landed in New Delhi on July 20 as a confirmed case of Ebola virus infection.

“He has been traced to Dwarka in south-west Delhi. This person was found to be healthy. He has been provided with all necessary guidelines for self-monitoring and asked to report to the authorities in case of manifestation of symptoms,” said a Health Ministry statement.

The incubation period for Ebola infection—described as an international health emergency by the WHO—varies between 2 and 21 days. Initial symptoms are fatigue, fever, headache, sore throat, pain—all of which are similar to flu symptoms.

As the disease progresses, a patient can experience abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhoea and loss of appetite, besides laboured breathing, trouble swallowing and chest pain. A rash, excessive bruising and bloody blisters on the skin are among the visual manifestations of the infection, which has a very high fatality rate (60-90 per cent) and no cure.

On Friday, Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said: “There is no cause for panic. We have put in operation the most advanced surveillance and tracking systems.”

In New Delhi, Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital has been identified for the management of any case of disease caused by Ebola virus. A 24-hour helpline will be functional from August 9. The numbers are (011)-23061469, 23013205 and 23011302.

As hospitals worldwide have been put on high alert, the Health Ministry roped in the Home and Civil Aviation Ministries for collection and collation of information on travellers to India through the affected countries in west Africa.

It will be mandatory for flight passengers to declare their movement in the recent past and their addresses in India through health cards. The database created would help track people who later develop symptoms.

While surveillance is being strengthened at airports and seaports, the Health Ministry's integrated disease surveillance programme is on alert.  The National Institute of Virology, Pune, and National Centre for Disease Control in Delhi are prepared to test samples for diagnosis.

In addition, the estimated 47,000 Indians in the affected countries are being contacted by the Indian missions. However, most of them are in Nigeria, which is the least affected.

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