Surveillance-tracking system in India for checking Ebola: Harsh Vardhan

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New Delhi, Oct 21: India has put in place a strong surveillance-tracking system for checking the dreaded Ebola disease, Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said on Tuesday.

The surveillance system is of the level which was used in Nigeria which has been declared "Ebola-Free" by the World Health Organisation.

Harsh Vardhan said that India already has a highly-rated integrated disease surveillance network.

"We have removed all stops to constantly upgrade equipment and retrain staff and are in the process of further strengthening them," he said after a meeting of senior officials of various departments here, according to an official release.

The minister said use of thermal scanners has made Nigeria's success possible. It is widely prevalent in most of the 15 major airports, often two to each. He added a further lot of scanners will be purchased and installed over the next few days.

He said: "These scanners, which resemble the radar guns used by police officers to catch speeding motorists, can detect high body temperature among people queued up before immigration counters. Fever is one of the commonest symptoms of Ebola."

Harsh Vardhan said that a guidance paper produced by the United States Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, has outlined all the facets of operating this hardware.

He added: "There is need for constant maintenance, frequent calibration and training of people using them."

Meanwhile, health authorities at the capital's Indira Gandhi International Airport conducted a mock drill Tuesday to test the alertness of the Ebola detection centre there.

The minister has instructed similar tests be carried out at all airports in the country within a few days and at regular intervals.

He said that greater clarity must be sought from international airlines as to the steps that are taken when a passenger manifests signs of Ebola when the plane is air-borne.

He added that it is essential to ensure that passengers are given self-declaration forms to fill out before they deplane.

IANS

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