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24-Hr Emergency Helpline Set Up for Ebola Outbreak: Vardhan

As the World Health Organisation today issued a global health emergency due to Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak, the government today opened a 24-hour emergency helpline and said it has put in place the "most advanced surveillance and tracking system".

All infected patients in the national capital will be treated at Ram Manohar Lohia hospital, a Health Ministry statement said.

Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, however, said there was no reported case in India and one traveller, who landed in New Delhi on July 20 and was confirmed by the WHO as a case of EVD, was found to be healthy. He had been traced to Dwarka in south-west Delhi.

"There is no cause for panic. We have put in operation the most advanced surveillance and tracking systems," he said in a statement.

The 24-hour 'Emergency Operation Centre' will be functional from tomorrow and its numbers are 011-23061469, 3205 and 1302, the ministry said.

A mechanism has been worked out in consultation with the Civil Aviation and Home Ministries for collation of information on travellers to India through the affected countries, Vatican said.

Flight passengers will be made to mandatorily declare through health cards their movement in the recent past and their addresses in India.

WHO today declared the current EVD outbreak as the “most complex outbreak leading to public health emergency”, calling for global health alert in all countries.

The four countries affected are all in western Africa– Guinea (393 deaths), Sierra Leone (286 deaths), Liberia (282 deaths) and Nigeria (1 death).

Surveillance is being strengthened at airports and ports, the ministry said, adding the Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP) is on alert.

The National Institute of Virology, Pune, and National Centre for Disease Control in Delhi are prepared to test samples for diagnosis.

"In addition, the estimated 47,000 Indians in the affected countries are being contacted by the Indian missions and supplied all didactic material so as to create awareness about prevention and self-reporting measures," it said.

The ministry had asked the chief secretaries of all states to strengthen their own tracking, surveillance and isolation facilities, it said.

Emerging story. Watch this space for updates as more details come in
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