Screening at airports for Ebola not done properly: Health Ministry

Screening at airports for Ebola not done properly: Health Ministry

The guidelines for screening incoming passengers at airports for deadly Ebola virus, including checking their 21-day travel history, are not implemented properly and lacunae have been detected in this, according to a review conducted by the Health Ministry.

Of the 14 airports identified, isolation facilities at 12 airports were not at par with the Health Ministry guidelines and thus India at present is using the quarantine facilities only at Delhi and Mumbai. The Ministry has initiated the process of upgrading the isolation facilities at the rest.

A team of Health Ministry officials recently reviewed the arrangements and isolation facilities at airports and hospitals identified by the government and found that the 21-day travel history of the arriving passengers is not checked properly.

Also, the inspecting team reported that health forms were not distributed to passengers on board even though the ground staff of most of the airlines is given the health forms for distribution during disembarkation at the airport, Health Ministry officials said.

The team also found that the isolation facilities at the hospitals identified by the governemnt were not at par the guidelines issued by the Union Health Ministry and the staff dealing with the disease lacked training of usage of the protective gears, they said.

Hospitals are not equipped to deal with Ebola as the isolation wards are built to cater to diseases like swine flu while Ebola requires higher level of quarantine.

"Thus a fresh list of hospitals has been sought from the state governments," the officials said.

"Also the staff at hospital and airports needs to be trained regarding the usage of protective gears," they said.

Further, shortage of manpower at airports was also noticed following which the Centre has asked the governments of Maharashtra, Kerala, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Tamil Nadu to provide additional manpower to maintain intensive surveillance at airports in Mumbai, Nagpur, Pune, Cochin, Calicut, Trivandrum, Jaipur, Lucknow, Vishakhapatnam, Hyderabd, Chennai, Coimbatore and Madurai.

Only few days back, an Indian national, cleared by Liberia of Ebola, was detected with traces of Ebola virus after he landed at Delhi Airport.

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