India has stepped up screening of passengers at airports after officials at New Delhi airport detected Ebola virus in a person returning from Liberia.
Union Health Minister JP Nadda said at a meeting that a three-member team comprising officials from the ministries of health, civil aviation and immigration would be set up to inspect all airports and detect possible loopholes in the screening process.
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A team from the Health Ministry had recently found out that isolation facilities set up at hospitals for Ebola patients were not performing up to the mark and hospital staff assigned duties in this section lacked proper training.
Isolation facilities at 12 out of the 14 airports are still to get setup. And the facilities at Delhi and Mumbai airports were the only two functioning properly.
"The health ministry has asked officials to expedite the action plan to make India compliant with the core capacities required under the International Health Regulations."
The Centre has asked states like Maharashtra, Kerala, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Tamil Nadu to arrange for additional manpower and proper screening at airports in their states. "Along with the airports, surveillance at sea ports also needs to be strengthened," Nadda said.
The minister has also appealed to hospitals to come up with short and long-term strategies for tackling emerging diseases such as Ebola. Meanwhile, as a good number of African nationals are found in Bangalore, the Centre has decided to set up a quarantine centre at the Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Chest Diseases (RGICD) in south Bengaluru.
Dr H C Ramesh, director, health and family welfare department, said the hospital already has one quarantine centre, but the new one will be set up on international standards. "The estimated cost of the project is Rs 4.5 crore," he said.