Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Wednesday asked Indian nationals to avoid non-essential travel to western African nations, facing Ebola virus outbreak, besides announcing mandatory screening and tracking of passengers originating or transiting from the affected countries.
Speaking in Parliament, Harsh Vardhan said close to 45,000 Indians are currently posted in the affected countries, and if the situation worsens in these countries, Indians staying there may return home.
“All precautions are being taken by us. While the risk of Ebola virus cases in India is low, preparedness measures are in place to deal with any case of the virus imported to India,” he said.
World Health Organisation has reported 1,603 cases, including 887 deaths, till August 4 in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria. India on Wednesday announced a grant of USD 50,000 each for the affected countries.
The minister said the risk of transmission of the virus to countries outside Africa is “low”, but “we would obtain details of travellers originating or transiting through affected countries to India and tracking these persons after their arrival up to their final destination”.
He announced that mandatory self-reporting by passengers coming from or transiting through the affected countries will be required at immigration check, and in-flight announcements will also be made by the airlines. “There would be designated facilities at the relevant airports/ports to manage travelers manifesting symptoms of the disease. The surveillance system would be geared up to track these travelers for four weeks and to detect them early, in case they develop symptoms,” he said.
A review meeting was held on Tuesday which was attended by representatives from Health, Home, External Affairs and Civil Aviation Ministries besides those from armed forces, National Disaster Management Authority and WHO. DGHS has reviewed the Ebola outbreak on May 2, and on August 1.