WITH THE World Health Organisation (WHO) raising concerns over the “explosive” spread of Zika virus in several countries, the Chandigarh health department has decided to strengthen the existing surveillance facilities and would spread awareness among masses in the city about the virus.
Zika spreads by the bite of Aedes Aegypti mosquito – that also spreads dengue – a disease that has a high prevalence in north Indian states. The virus is linked to shrunken heads in children and has sparked panic in several countries.
Senior officials in the Chandigarh health department said they would take “precautionary measures” to ensure that the city is well prepared in case of any eventuality.
“We are planning to start Information Education and Communication (IEC) activities in the city. We will also strengthen the surveillance activities,” said Dr Deepak Bakshi, assistant director (Malaria), Chandigarh Health Department.
Dr Bakshi said the department was in touch with the government of India and are waiting for the further instructions. “We are monitoring the situation closely,” he said.
An official said the department would make efforts to search for and destroy the larvae of Aedes mosquito in the city. He added that training would also be provided to medical officers to educate them about the virus.
The steps initiated by the Chandigarh health department have come even as Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare J P Nadda, constituted a a technical group in New Delhi that will monitor the situation.
According to the sources in the UT administration, the Zika virus was also discussed in the meeting of epidemic supervisory committee of the UT administration earlier this week. The supervisory committee comprises of health experts from the city government hospitals and the health department. Dr Bakshi said, “We held a discussion with the experts and we came to a conclusion that the committee will wait for the action plan drafted by the Centre,” he said.
Officials at the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) said that a “contingency plan” would be drafted to deal with any situation. “So far we haven’t received any communication from the ministry about the virus. But we have started internal discussions at the Institute about the Zika Virus,” a senior PGIMER official said. The official maintained that the Institute would also prepare a contingency plan with the help of the experts.
“We are monitoring the situation in other countries,” said a senior doctor from the Department of Virology, PGI.