- Category: India
- Published: 22 August 2014
India has been pro-active in preparing for an outbreak of Ebola, but authorities need to improve the surveillance of travellers and raise public awareness about the deadly virus, the World Health Organisation said on Friday.
There are nearly 45,000 Indians living and working in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria - where more than 1,300 people have died of Ebola in the worst outbreak of the disease in history.
There is also a large population of West Africans, mainly students, in India and there are concerns that the disease could be imported into the country.
Health Minister Harsh Vardhan announced preventive measures on August 6 which included in-flight announcements prior to landing, informing passengers to self-report at immigration.
Almost 500 passengers - mostly in the states of Maharashtra, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu - are currently being tracked, a health ministry statement said on Wednesday.
Asheena Khalakdina, the WHO's Team Leader for Communicable Diseases, said while the risk of Ebola coming to India was low, it was important that authorities put in place the precautionary measures outlined by the organisation.
"No country is perfect. You can go to any Western country and every country has areas where they can make improvements and certainly India is not an exception, so we are working closely with the ministry of health to see where those gaps are," Mr Khalakdina told a news conference.
The government has set up facilities at airports and ports to manage travellers showing symptoms of the disease such as fever, intense weakness or bleeding. Those displaying symptoms are being tracked for up to four weeks.
State authorities have also been instructed to designate hospitals with isolation wards for response to possible cases and to stock protective equipment.