India wants US to screen passengers for swine flu

June 16th, 2009 - 4:01 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, June 16 (IANS) India Tuesday said there should be “some kind of screening” for outbound travellers in the US as most people coming from that country have been tested positive for influenza A(H1N1) virus.
So far, 30 people have tested positive for swine flu in India. Of them, most had come from the US, including eight teenagers. The students had returned from an educational trip to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

“The US is the main source (of swine flu) as far as India is concerned,” Minister of State for Health Dinesh Trivedi told reporters here.

“In Mexico, when people leave the airport, they are properly monitored and screened. Similarly, Americans should also provide some kind of screening at the point of departure,” he added.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), which Thursday raised its alert against swine flu to the highest level - Phase 6, about 76 countries have officially reported 35,928 cases of influenza A(H1N1) infection, including 163 deaths. Most of these deaths are reported from Mexico (108) and the US (45).

The swine flu pandemic is the first since the Hong Kong flu pandemic in 1968, which killed one million people.

Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad has already requested the external affairs ministry to prevail upon swine-flu affected countries to start screening of passengers bound for India to cut down spread of the deadly virus, Trivedi said.

“The government is ready to handle the situation and there is no need to panic,” he said.

After seven children from Jalandhar had tested positive, Azad had said that “till this disease is not controlled globally, I would like to request young people from educational institutions going abroad to suspend their visits for the time being”.

“They can go after two-three months,” he had told reporters.

According to Deepak Bhatia, nodal officer to tackle swine flu in Jalandhar, the seven students from Punjab who have tested positive for influenza A (H1N1) are being kept in isolation wards and are under constant observation while the test reports of two other students who had exhibited flu symptoms are awaited.

He said four other people who had travelled on the same flight along with the students from the US have exhibited swine flu symptoms and are being monitored.

“A 38-year-old man, who returned from Bahrain Friday, was quarantined in Shimla Monday evening after he showed symptoms of swine flu,” Himachal Pradesh Health Minister Rajeev Bindal told IANS.

On Monday night, two more people, including a 12-year-old girl, were quarantined after they showed swine flu-like symptoms.

The 12-year-old girl, who arrived in Mumbai from Thailand with her family was found to be suffering from fever and cough and was quarantined as a precautionary measure.

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