A male passenger, who landed in Chennai from Guinea on Saturday night and kept under observation at a government hospital for suspected Ebola virus infection, has been found healthy, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said.
“The Department of Health, Government of Tamil Nadu, has informed the central government that a person had indeed landed at Chennai airport from Guinea on August 9. He was checked for symptoms and was found healthy. However, health authorities of the state are monitoring his health,” an official release said in Delhi on Sunday. Vardhan denied media reports that it was a suspected case of Ebola.
Officials said the suspected patient approached a medical counter at the airport immediately after his flight landed and sought a check-up.
The state public health department said the person hails from Theni, in south Tamil Nadu, and was kept under observation in a quarantined area at the general hospital in Chennai. He will later be placed under home surveillance in Theni, they said. Senior doctors at the hospital confirmed that they are yet to ascertain the symptoms of Ebola.
The symptoms of Ebola, which include fever, sore throat, muscle pain and headache, appear two days to three weeks after contracting the virus.
Although blood samples of the patient had reportedly been sent to the National Institute of Virology (NIV), officials at the Pune facility denied having received the samples. “However, we are on a constant alert and even if the sample is sent in the middle of the night our teams are trained to identify and isolate the virus from samples. It takes 24-48 hours to confirm the presence of the virus,” an official said.
Meanwhile, the Health Ministry, in coordination with the ministries of Home Affairs (Immigration Department), External Affairs and Civil Aviation, is constantly tracking passengers arriving in India from the West African countries affected by Ebola.
Mandatory self-reporting is in place. Health officers posted in identified international airports all over India are screening passengers getting off aircraft.
(With inputs from ENS, Pune)