More thermal scanners at airports to check Ebola

More thermal scanners at airports to check Ebola

As the threat of Ebola spreads, the Union Health Ministry is planning to install thermal scanners at more airports to screen people with high body temperature, which could be having one of the symptoms of an infected individual.

At a review meeting earlier this week, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said all international airports and sea ports would be fitted with thermal scanners for round the clock deployment. These instruments are already being used in 15 airports.

The use of thermal scanners, which contributed to Nigeria’s success in containing Ebola spread, is prevalent in most of the 15 major airports. More scanners would be purchased and installed over the next few days at the minister’s orders, the health ministry said in a statement.

“These scanners, which resemble radar guns used by police officers to catch speeding motorists, can detect high body temperature among people queued up before immigration counters,” Vardhan said. Fever is one of the most common symptoms of EVD.
Indian officials used thermal scanners when SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) broke out in south-east Asia in 2002-03. Now the World Health Organisation and the Centre for Disease Control, Atlanta suggest use of these scanner at the entry point for international traveller in an outbreak situation.

As per the internationally accepted guideline, no new cases for two incubation period of the virus – 42 days in total for Ebola – marks end of an outbreak. While Nigeria achieved this, other west African nations are yet to reach that stage.

In August, CDC teams trained airport workers in West Africa to use handheld scanners that check travellers for fever, a possible sign of Ebola, and helped develop an exit questionnaire to determine potential exposure.
No Ebola patient has been found in India so far.

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