Man shows traces of Ebola virus, quarantined in Delhi
NEW DELHI: India has quarantined a man who was cured
of Ebola in Liberia but continued to show traces of the virus in samples of his
semen after arriving in the country, the Health Ministry said on Tuesday.
The ministry said in a statement that the Indian
national had been shown to be negative for Ebola in tests conforming to World
Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines, but had been quarantined as a
precautionary measure when he arrived at New Delhi airport on Nov. 10. Later,
tests of his semen detected traces of the virus.
“It is a known fact that, during convalescence from
Ebola Virus Disease, persons continue to shed virus in bodily fluids for
variable periods,” the ministry said. “However, presence of virus in his semen
samples may have the possibility of transmitting the disease through sexual
route up to 90 days from time of clinical cure.”
India has screened thousands of passengers travelling
from Ebola-hit West Africa in recent weeks. The Indian man carried with him
documents from Liberia that stated he had been cured. He will be kept in
quarantine until the virus is no longer present in his body, and will undergo
tests over the next 10 days or so, a senior Health Ministry official said.
“It is not an Ebola case, he is an Ebola-treated
patient who is negative in blood but whose body fluid is positive. He has no
symptoms,” the official said, declining to be named because of the sensitivity
of the matter.
Peter Piot, a former WHO official who was one of the
discoverers of the virus, has in the past expressed concerns about the disease
spreading to India. There are nearly 45,000 Indian nationals living in West
Many experts say densely populated India is not
adequately prepared to handle any spread of the highly infectious haemorrhagic
fever among its 1.2 billion people. Government health services are overburdened
and many people in rural areas struggle to get access to even basic health
Hygiene standards are low, especially in smaller towns
and villages, and defecating and urinating in the open are common. The current
outbreak of Ebola is the worst on record. It has killed at least 5,177 people,
mostly in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, according to the latest figures
from the WHO.