Monkeypox scare: Here's how states are maintaining a close watch
Several states have put their airports on alert, in line with the Centre's guidelines, as four monkeypox cases have been reported in India so far.
Several airports across the country have been put on high alert amid growing fears of monkeypox in India. The Centre on Tuesday held a high-level meeting to review the potential outbreak of the viral disease after four cases, along with several suspected cases, were reported in the country. The Union Health Ministry has advised all states to direct hospitals to watch out for symptomatic patients, who have travelled to the monkeypox-affected countries recently.
Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) chief Atul Goel directed the National Centre for Disease Control to carry out a detailed epidemiological investigation of the cases, and stressed on the need for a targeted approach towards high-risk groups.
So far, the four confirmed monkeypox cases in India belong to two states – three from Kerala and one from Delhi. While all three cases in Kerala have been found in UAE returnees, the person infected in Delhi was found to have no recent history of travel.
Here's a list of states that have issued travel directives at airports:
“It is mandatory for all health facilities to notify any suspect case of monkeypox to the concerned District Surveillance Unit and must be referred and isolated at the reserved ward of Lok Nayak Hospital in coordination with District Surveillance Officers," read an advisory by the Delhi government's DGHS.
International travellers arriving in Delhi with monkeypox symptoms such as high fever and back pain will be sent to the LNJP Hospital from the airport, news agency PTI reported. The decision was reportedly taken in a review meeting chaired by Delhi Lieutenant Governor V K Saxena on Monday.
Kerala health minister Veena George has said that all international travellers are to undergo thermal screening at airports to check for fever and other symptoms of monkeypox. The guidelines were in line with the Union health ministry's guidelines on monkeypox. The country's first cases of monkeypox were reported from Kerala.
Although Karnataka has not reported any monkeypox case yet, the state's health department has asked authorities to keep vigil among travellers arriving at Bengaluru or Mangaluru airport, or any other international airport, from affected countries, in light of neighbouring Kerala reporting the infection, according to a report by Livemint.
Goa Health Minister Vishwajit Rane said last week that the Centre sent a letter to the state government stating the proactive steps that are to be taken regarding the viral disease.
“Government, due to experience with COVID-19, has been very proactive. We have received a letter from the Secretary Health, Government of India to tell us the proactive steps to be taken by the government. We can see globally that it's spreading in certain areas,” he told news agency ANI.
Tamil Nadu Police and health department have also heightened surveillance across international airports after multiple cases reported in neighbouring Kerala. The Health Department has set up surveillance teams at all four airports in the state to screen passengers arriving in the state from international destinations.
Odisha health minister Naba Kishore Das said the administration has been keeping a close watch on the situation and directed officials to enhance surveillance. The authorities have also been asked to monitor those who are coming from outside, especially abroad, he said.
The state government has directed all district administrations to keep dedicated beds in every medical college and hospital for management of such infection, he said.
Apart from these states, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh are also on high alert after monkeypox-like symptoms were detected in two persons.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared monkeypox a global health emergency after over 16,000 cases of the infection appeared across 65 countries.