Keeping Ebola Out

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Published: November 20, 2014 3:19 AM

For India, checking Ebola at the border itself is paramount

Given that Ebola breached even the US’s frontiers, India—especially the medical and paramedical team at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport—did well to contain possible transmission. The airport quarantined, and isolated under full medical attention, a person of Indian origin flying in from Liberia, one of the most-affected countries in the largest Ebola outbreak ever recorded. The subject had suffered from Ebola virus disease, but had been asymptomatic since September, with a certificate of discharge from a Liberian hospital. Though the individual’s blood stream did not show any viral load, other bodily fluids did.

Over 45,000 Indians live in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, the epicentre of the Ebola outbreak. Given India’s public health system is poorly equipped to handle any outbreak here—while the virus did make it out of the US airports, mortality was recorded only in 10% of the infection cases largely because of the superior tracking and isolation facilities in the country—it is imperative for us to stop the virus at the border. The fact that the medical personnel at the Delhi airport tested the patient despite his being asymptomatic shows India is well-geared, at least as far as awareness goes, to fence out the disease. At the same time, at least one isolation facility in each district and two national virology centres dedicated to detection are important, if not optimal, in-fort defence measures.

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