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Tuesday, June 02, 2020

Suspected coronavirus in Delhi: What is India’s disease outbreak investigation protocol?

The National Health Portal of India lists a 10-step procedure to investigate an outbreak, including preparing for fieldwork, establishing the existence of an outbreak, verifying diagnosis, defining and identifying cases, and communicating findings.

By: Explained Desk | New Delhi | Published: January 28, 2020 5:46:11 pm
A thermal screening device being used to check passengers arriving in India from China in Kolkata.

Three Indians have been kept under observation at an isolation ward in Ram Manohar Lohia (RML) Hospital in Delhi after they returned from China, where the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak has claimed over 106 lives.

As per the World Health Organisation’s (WHO’s) latest situation report, as of January 27, there are roughly 2,800 confirmed cases of the coronavirus infection globally, at least 2,741 of which are in China.

Other countries with confirmed cases of 2019-nCoV include Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, Singapore, Australia, Thailand, Nepal, France, the United States, Malaysia and Canada.

The National Health Portal of India lists a 10-step procedure to investigate an outbreak, including preparing for fieldwork, establishing the existence of an outbreak, verifying diagnosis, defining and identifying cases, and communicating findings.

The decision regarding whether and how extensively to investigate a potential outbreak depends on a variety of factors, it says.

These factors may be related to the health problem, related to the health department, and some factors may have external concerns. Factors related to the problem itself include the severity of the illness, the number of cases, the source, mode or ease of transmission, and the availability of prevention and control measures.

“Most local health departments investigate an apparent outbreak when the number of affected (or exposed) persons is large, when the disease is severe (serious illness with high risk of hospitalization, complications, or death) when effective control measures exist, and when the outbreak has the potential to affect others unless prompt control measures are taken.”

Indians have been advised to avoid non-essential travel to China and to maintain good personal hygiene among various other precautions and measures.

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