Monkeypox: Centre reviews screening mechanism for international passengers

The Union Health Ministry on Monday reviewed the screening mechanism for international travellers arriving at Indian airports and ports, after Kerala reported a second case of monkeypox from Kannur district.

The Airport and Port Health Officers were re-oriented about the clinical presentations of the viral infection and asked to conduct strict screening of travellers to prevent importation of cases.

They were also advised to coordinate with other stakeholder agencies like immigration departments at international ports and airports to streamline health screening processes besides ensuring suitable linkages with hospital facilities earmarked to each port of entry for timely referral and isolation. The meeting was attended by senior officials from the International Health Division, and Disaster Management Cell.

The centre had rushed a four member multi-disciplinary team to Kerala after the first case was confirmed on July 14.

The Union government had issued the first set of guidelines on detection, management, and surveillance for the infection on May 31. The directive had stated that those with a history of travel to affected countries in the last 21 days, with an unexplained rash, and one the symptoms such as swollen lymph nodes, fever, headache, body aches, and profound weakness, will be suspected of having the infection.

The case will be confirmed only after conducting a PCR test (like the one done for Covid-19) or sequencing the genetic material by sending the patient sample to the National Institute of Virology in Pune.

“Considering this is the first time that cases and clusters are being reported concurrently in five WHO Regions, WHO has assessed the overall risk of spread of cases as “Moderate” at global level. I would, therefore, Like to reiterate some of the key actions that are required to be taken,” the union health secretary had told states in a letter earlier this week.

Over 3,000 cases have been reported from over 50 countries across the globe, including many where the disease is not endemic.

The infection is usually seen in West and Central African countries. Most of these cases have been reported from the European region (86%) and the Americas (11%).

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