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Nearly 45,000 Indians living in Ebola-affected countries, may bring virus home

India TV News Desk 07 Aug 2014, 10:22:02 AM IST
India TV News Desk
New Delhi: Nearly 45,000 Indians are living in different countries affected by Ebola, a deadly virus that has claimed 932 lives so far.

Of this, 300 are CRPF personnel deployed in Liberia for UN peacekeeping operations. Union health minister Harsh Vardhan said this on Wednesday in a written statement to Parliament.

He said that 500 Indians were in the Republic of Guinea, 3,000 in Liberia and 1,200 in Sierra Leone, from where the maximum cases have been reported.

Nigeria has a much larger presence of nearly 40,000 Indian citizens.
 
"If the situation worsens, there is a possibility of these people returning home," Vardhan said.

Vardhan further said that preparedness measures are in place to deal with any case of the virus imported to India.

Health ministry sources said director general of health services (DGHS) Jagdish Prasad held two meetings on August 1 and 2 to review the situation. Advisories have been issued to the state disease surveillance units to be on alert.

On Tuesday, the health minister held another meeting that was attended by immigration, external affairs ministry, civil aviation, armed forces and World Health Organization (WHO) officials to assess the threat perception to India.
 
He further said that the Armed Forces would be taking action to suitably advise their personnel in the affected region for appropriate health precautions and to apprise them about reducing the risk of contracting this infection.
 
He said the States / Union Territory Administrations are being requested to identify Nodal Officers and designate hospitals with isolation wards for responding to any possible cases.
 
"States would also be asked to keep in readiness Personal Protective Equipment for protecting health care workers and doctors. Public awareness would be created through print and audio visual media," he added.
 
Giving details about the virus, Harsh Vardhan said the Ebola virus disease is a severe, often fatal illness with a case fatality rate of up to 90 per cent.
 
He said in Africa, fruit bats are known to carry the virus from whom animals like chimpanzees, gorillas, monkeys, forest antelopes get infected.
 
He said humans get the infection either from the infected animals or from infected humans when they come in close contact with infected body fluids or body secretions. However, there is no airborne transmission.
 
He said during the current outbreak, most of the disease has spread through human-to-human transmission.
 
The Minister said the incubation period of the Ebola virus is 2 to 21 days, during which the affected persons are not infective.