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Kerala sets up medical desks at airports to screen passengers from Ebola hit countries

KOCHI: Taking a serious view of Ebola outbreak in West African countries, Kerala Government has set up special medical help desks in three international airports in the state to screen passengers arriving from affected places for the virus.

Special medical teams have been deployed in Thiruvananthapuram, Kozhikode, and Kochi airports for conducting necessary examination at the airports as per the guidelines issued by Union Health Ministry, State Health Minister VS Sivakumar said in the capital city.

Passengers arriving from Guinea, Nigeria, Liberia and Sierra Leone would be screened. Speaking after a high-level meeting, the minister said all necessary preventive measures have been taken.

Treatment facilities were also arranged at the medical colleges in Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode and General Hospitals here, Ernakulam and Kozhikode, he added. Those coming from these countries will be put under observation for three weeks and their blood samples will be sent to the National Institute of Virology in Pune.

Doctors and nurses will be given special training to treat suspected patients, Sivakumar said. The government has also appointed Dr Amar Fettle to coordinate the operations with the Central government and the Airports Authority of India.

In Kochi, an official statement from the Cochin International Airport Limited (CIAL) said all precautionary steps, including inception of quarantine facility, were being taken by the authorities. In-flight announcement and awareness campaign for the staffers were also being taken up.

Travellers who have symptoms compatible with EVD like fever, weakness, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, vomiting, diarrhoea, bleeding are also alerted to immediately report to health officer on arrival.

Also those developing these symptoms within 30 days of arrival in the country are also asked to immediately visit district hospital. As per the instruction received from National Centre for Disease Control, all airlines are asked to render an in-flight alert message in this line.

A meeting chaired by Cochin International Airport director, ACK Nair reviewed the precautionary initiated in the airport. A medical team led by Airport Health Officer, three quarantine rooms and two ambulances were also made available at the Cochin Airport.