Health officials are keeping a close watch on a Delhi resident who arrived from Ghana on a flight in which a passenger tested positive for the deadly Ebola virus ravaging west Africa. The man’s two housemates are also under surveillance.
The Dwarka resident — HT is withholding his name — is being monitored since July 21, two days after he reached the Capital, but has not shown any symptoms of the highly contagious haemorrhagic fever.
“We were alerted by the WHO about him being exposed to the disease. His co-passenger on the flight had tested positive for Ebola. Our surveillance units tracked him down and also examined people living with him,” a health ministry official said.
“Since none of them have shown any symptoms so far, we didn’t get them tested. We have asked them to watch out for any symptoms,” said the official.
The symptoms include vomiting, diarrhoea, high fever, bleeding and damage to central nervous system. The incubation period for the Ebola virus is two to 21 days. There is no vaccine or cure for one of the deadliest diseases known to humans that spreads through bodily fluids.
The man flew from the Ghanaian capital Accra to Addis Ababa in Ethiopia and then to Delhi. No Ebola cases have been reported from Ghana or Ethiopia, so far.
There was confusion on Wednesday when health officials went to an alternate address — a DLF Phase-2 apartment in Gurgaon — provided by the passenger and found it locked.
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“The phone numbers mentioned in his travel documents were not reachable and we couldn’t find him in Gurgaon either, so we asked Delhi to inform us if he tests positive, “ said Dr VK Thapar, district surveillance officer, Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme, Gurgaon.
India has made it mandatory for all passengers coming from or transiting through the affected countries to self-report their itinerary on arrival.
In-flight announcements are asking passengers to report symptoms at airports, where designated rooms have been set up.
The world’s worst Ebola outbreak has killed 932 people in West Africa after the first case was reported in March in Guinea. Humans contract the disease from infected animals, including chimpanzees and fruit bats.
Apart from visitors to west Africa, India also gets nationals from the affected countries.
“Since many visitors come to India for health treatment, private hospitals in the city have been issued strict guidelines to identify cases and keep an isolation ward ready,” Dr Thapar said.
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(With Delhi inputs)