Mumbai: The Centre today informed the Bombay High Court that it has installed machines at several international airports in the country to detect the presence of Ebola virus among people, who are returning home in large numbers from the affected African countries.
However, activist Ketan Tirodkar, who has filed a PIL alleging that India was not fully equipped to prevent the spread of the deadly virus, said that such machines may not be fit enough to detect the disease.
According to Tirodkar, Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) is required at airports to examine patients suspected to have contracted Ebola virus. Even World Health Organisation has said that doctors can refuse to examine patients if PPE was not available. In India, PPE is not provided, he alleged.
Counsel for the Union Government, Rui Rodrigues, informed that at least 15,000 people had come from affected African countries and all of them had tested negative for the virus.
A bench of Justices Abhay Oka and Girish Kulkarni asked him to file an affidavit tomorrow stating what steps had been taken by the Union Government to deal with Ebola cases and whether the authorities were fully equipped to treat people suffering from the disease.
The judges have posted the matter for hearing on September 5.Both, the Centre and the state government, had informed the court that they had taken steps to deal with Ebola cases. While Centre made oral submissions through its lawyer, the state had filed an affidavit detailing steps taken to tackle the situation as a result of Indians fleeing from African countries.
The PIL also sought a direction to the Union Home Ministry to issue a notice to the Mumbai international airport to prevent passengers arriving from West African countries from alighting from the aircraft.
The petitioner pleaded that India was not equipped to prevent the spread of the virus. He said 112 passengers had recently arrived in Mumbai from Liberia and were quarantined.
The PIL pleaded that the USA and South Asia had banned alighting of passengers from West African nations into their territories and India was lagging behind in this regard.
"India should ban the entry of any person travelling from West African countries. Such persons may come via Gulf countries or South East Asian countries," the PIL argued.
Tirodkar urged for direction to the union government to provide PPE as set out by the WHO to the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), which secures the airport and also to doctors and nurses at the government hospitals.