New Delhi, Jan 29 (PTI) : The Centre on Friday decided to constitute a technical group to monitor the situation arising out of spread of Zika virus and strengthen its surveillance system, a day after WHO warned that the virus was spreading "explosively" and can affect countries like India.
Health Minister J P Nadda, who held a high-level meeting to take stock of the situation in view of the recent cases of Zika virus being reported from some countries, said that India is "well prepared" in case of any eventuality.
"We are closely monitoring the situation and all necessary steps have been initiated to ensure that India is well prepared in case of any eventuality," Nadda said after the meeting in which doctors from AIIMS also took part.
The Zika virus is "spreading explosively" in the Americas and can infect upto four million people, the WHO warned on Friday as it issued a warning to all countries, including India. Aedes Aegypti mosquito carries Zika virus which is thought to cause brain damage in babies. This mosquito also carries the viruses that cause Dengue and Chikungunya which are of great public health concern in tropical countries like India.
The outbreak began in Brazil last year and has now spread to 24 countries in the Americas. Zika virus is believed to cause neurological problems like microcephaly, a condition of abnormally small head in babies.
"Nadda directed constitution of a technical group with immediate effect which would monitor the situation arising out of spread of Zika virus in other countries and will advise further on all the necessary steps that need to be taken," an official statement said.
"We are focusing on especially strengthening the surveillance system," it said. The Health Minister emphasised that there should be an increased focus on prevention to control the spread of the Aedes mosquito that breeds in clean water.
"Community awareness plays an instrumental role in this regard. There is a need for greater awareness amongst community," he said. Such is the level of alarm that many American countries like El Salvador, Colombia and Ecuador have urged women to postpone pregnancy till 2018.