Ebola scare in India: Govt beefs up steps, says no need to panic

Government on Wednesday decided to tighten measures to detect Ebola cases and formed a three- member committee to plug gaps at airports, a day after it quarantined an Ebola survivor for carrying traces of the deadly virus.

PTI| Last Updated: Nov 19, 2014, 20:57 PM IST

New Delhi/Jammu: Government on Wednesday decided to tighten measures to detect Ebola cases and formed a three- member committee to plug gaps at airports, a day after it quarantined an Ebola survivor for carrying traces of the deadly virus.

As concerns mounted, Health Minister JP Nadda said situation is under "complete control" and there is no need to panic.

Nadda, who on Tuesday chaired an inter-ministerial meeting to review the situaiton, said his ministry will constitute teams of experts who will visit states and review preparedness of their hospitals designated for treating Ebola patients.

In Jammu, Nadda told reporters that arrangements similar to the one at Delhi airport, which helped detect the virus in a 26-year-old Indian national returning from Liberia, have been put in place at 24 airports.

It has, however, emerged that guidelines for screening incoming passengers at airports for the deadly virus, including checking their 21-day travel history, are not implemented properly and lacunae have been detected in this, according to a review conducted by the Health Ministry.

Of the 14 airports identified, isolation facilities at 12 airports were not at par with the Health Ministry guidelines and thus India at present is using the quarantine facilities only at Delhi and Mumbai. The Ministry has initiated the process of upgrading the isolation facilities at the rest.

"A three member team will be constituted to inspect all airports to identify the gaps. It will include officials from the Health, Civil Aviation and Immigration departments," an official statement said today, adding that the committee will submit its report within a week.

"There is no need to panic. The situation is under complete control," Nadda said.

The Health Minister asked officials to ensure that quarantine facilities set up at airports adhere to all guidelines and protocols.

The detection of the virus in the man, who arrived here on November 10 from Liberia, was a result of "extra caution" shown by the government, he said.