India steps up watch for deadly Ebola virus

August 9, 2014

India's airports went on alert and the government opened an emergency helpline Saturday as part of measures to tackle any outbreak of the deadly Ebola epidemic in the country of 1.25 billion people.

India has nearly 45,000 nationals living in the four Ebola-affected West African nations and said there was a possibility of some of them returning to their home country if the outbreak worsens.

The illness was declared an international health emergency by the World Health Organization Friday and authorities voiced fears the virus could spread worldwide.

India's Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said in a statement the country has "put in operation the most advanced surveillance and tracking systems" for the hemorrhagic virus.

"There is no need to panic," Vardhan said, calling risk of Ebola cases in India "low".

But the New Indian Express newspaper voiced concern in an editorial that India's already overburdened health services could not cope with any Ebola outbreak.

A country as "populous as India cannot afford to set up adequate isolation, containment facilities and equip medical personnel with protective gear", the newspaper said.

There are some 4,700 Indians in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, the three countries worst hit by the disease, while another 40,000 live in Nigeria, which has also reported Ebola.

"If the situation worsens, there could be a possibility of these Indians travelling back," the minister said.

"Preparedness measures are in place to deal with any case of the virus," he said.

The WHO had informed India about a traveller who was possibly exposed to Ebola. He tested negative but has been told to report to authorities if he develops any symptoms, the ministry said.

The ministry said an "emergency operation centre" helpline for reporting any cases started operations Saturday and "surveillance is being strengthened at airports and ports".

The government is setting up centres at airports and ports to deal with travellers showing any potential symptoms of Ebola, spread through close contact with bodily fluids of people who who are sick.

All air passengers arriving in India from Ebola-affected countries must now fill in a symptom-checklist form and provide addresses as the government builds a database to track people who might develop symptoms.

Explore further: 5 things to know about Ebola outbreak in W. Africa

Related Stories

5 things to know about Ebola outbreak in W. Africa

July 28, 2014
(AP)—There has been panic and fear about the deadly Ebola disease spreading ever since Nigerian health officials reported Friday that a Liberian man sick with the disease had traveled to Togo and then Nigeria before dying. ...

NYC hospital testing patient for possible Ebola

August 4, 2014
A New York City hospital says it's performing Ebola tests on a patient who recently traveled to West Africa.

Airlines agency considering passenger screening for Ebola

July 31, 2014
The International Civil Aviation Organization said Thursday it is considering passenger screenings for Ebola, now that the deadly virus for the first time has crossed international borders aboard an aircraft.

Nigeria death shows Ebola can spread by air travel

July 27, 2014
(AP)—Nigerian health authorities raced to stop the spread of Ebola on Saturday after a man sick with one of the world's deadliest diseases brought it by plane to Lagos, Africa's largest city with 21 million people.

Suspected Saudi Ebola sufferer dies of heart attack

August 6, 2014
A Saudi Arabian who had travelled to Sierra Leone and had symptoms similar to those found in Ebola sufferers died Wednesday of a heart attack, the health ministry said.

Sierra Leone defends its record on Ebola outbreak

June 21, 2014
Sierra Leone says it is dismayed by allegations that it is not doing enough to combat the Ebola outbreak ravaging West Africa.

Recommended for you

Key discoveries offer significant hope of reversing antibiotic resistance

October 23, 2017
Resistance to antibiotics is becoming increasingly prevalent and threatens to undermine healthcare systems across the globe. Antibiotics including penicillins, cephalosporins and carbapenems are known as β-lactams and are ...

Novel therapies for multidrug-resistant bacteria

October 23, 2017
During this innovative study published in PLOS One, researchers found that novel classes of compounds, such as metal-complexes, can be used as alternatives to or to supplement traditional antibiotics, which have become ineffective ...

Pneumonia vaccine under development provides 'most comprehensive coverage' to date, alleviates antimicrobial concerns

October 20, 2017
In 2004, pneumonia killed more than 2 million children worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. By 2015, the number was less than 1 million.

Newly discovered viral marker could help predict flu severity in infected patients

October 20, 2017
Flu viruses contain defective genetic material that may activate the immune system in infected patients, and new research published in PLOS Pathogens suggests that lower levels of these molecules could increase flu severity.

Migraines may be the brain's way of dealing with oxidative stress

October 19, 2017
A new perspective article highlights a compelling theory about migraine attacks: that they are an integrated mechanism by which the brain protects and repairs itself. Recent insightful findings and potential ways to use them ...

H7N9 influenza is both lethal and transmissible in animal model for flu

October 19, 2017
In 2013, an influenza virus that had never before been detected began circulating among poultry in China. It caused several waves of human infection and in late 2016, the number of people to become sick from the H7N9 virus ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.