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Aero India 2023

India's international airports equipped to check swine flu

A File Photo of Air India plane.

NEW DELHI (BNS): As part of a nationwide crackdown on swine flu, central medical teams have been positioned in India’s international airports which received the maximum foreign visitors.

Indian Air Force (IAF) governed Lohegaon international airbase became the latest airport in the country to deploy a central medical team to examine passengers arriving from foreign shores.

“A central team comprising two doctors from Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MHFW) has been deployed at the airport. In addition, the airport has also deployed its own local medical team to assist the central team,” Airport Authority of India (AAI), Pune director J P Mathur said.

The government has identified nine international airports, which include the six metro airports and the airports in Jaipur, Goa and Cochin, for screening of passengers coming from countries affected by swine flu like Mexico, Canada and the United States.

The ministry of civil aviation in a statement said it had directed all international airports across India to step up surveillance and screen passengers. “The Airports Authority of India (AAI) has been directed to set up facilities for screening of international passengers and crew arriving from affected countries. These screening stations are to be manned by medical and para-medical personnel provided by the ministry of health.”

In the capital, counters have been set up at the international airport where 32 doctors and eight nurses are screening passengers while in Mumbai screening of passengers last week at three counters.

A central team lead by Dr Randeep Guleria of the AIIMS circulated treatment guidelines across the country and the Centre procured two million additional doses of Tamiflu, the drug which is used to treat the disease.

Swine flu "is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza viruses that causes regular outbreaks in pigs," according to US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Vineet Chowdhry, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, told journalists on Monday that seaports were also under observation but no additional medical staff had been deployed there, adding, sea travel took longer and it was mainly the crew who arrived at the ports and the Port Health Office was adequate to handle them.

Meanwhile, over 45,000 passengers had been screened at 22 airports. The 2,000 passengers who had arrived from Mexico and Canada in the past two weeks were now being screened. The Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme was being further activated to maintain a regular check on passengers, according to media reports.

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