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India holds high-level meeting on Ebola preparedness


New Delhi, Oct 16:

India Thursday held a high-level meeting on the country’s preparedness to handle the “emerging” global crisis on Ebola.

The meeting, chaired by Cabinet Secretary Ajit Seth, was attended by chief secretaries and health secretaries of all states which have international airports and sea links.

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file pic

The Ebola epidemic that broke out in west Africa last March has already caused 4,447 deaths and infected 8,914 people, especially in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

A US nurse has been infected with the deadly virus raising concerns over the disease’s spread to western countries.

Seth took stock of the measures being undertaken for strengthening the preparedness, surveillance and response system in the respective states.

Secretaries of health, home, shipping, civil aviation and external affairs ministries were also present.

The protocol and preparedness measures, including infection control practices, to be followed by the states and union territories have already been communicated to the states, an official release said here.

The state governments were informed during the meeting that these protocols have been put in place and all in-bound passengers are being screened.

The states have been informed that in accordance with the protocol, they have to identify hospitals and isolation wards for Ebola treatment. Central teams have been asked to inspect the adequacy of preparations in these hospitals.

According to senior officials, till Wednesday, 22,150 passengers have been screened for Ebola of which seven have been identified to be at medium risk and 56 at high risk while the others were categorized as low risk.

Low risk passengers are given general advice on the virus while medium and high risk passengers are kept under observation for a further period of 30 days and their blood samples tested, they said.

A disease tracking system has also been put in place under the Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP). No case of Ebola has so far been reported in the country although WHO has reported about 9,000 cases and 4,493 deaths globally.

The chief secretaries were requested to ensure that proper liaison and coordination is maintained by the state health authorities with the airports and sea ports.

During the meeting, some state governments said they need more personal protective equipment (PPE) gear.

Meanwhile, the government is organizing a training programme from Oct 19-21 at Delhi. This training will include demonstrations and mock drills.