By Shalini Bhardwaj
New Delhi [India], August 2 (ANI): The Joint Secretary in the Union Health Ministry has written to Dr Hussain Abdul Rahman, Executive Director and IHR focal point in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), requesting him to intensify screening to ensure that persons exhibiting symptoms suggestive of monkeypox disease are not allowed to board flights to India to minimise the risk of disease transmission.
In the letter, dated August 1, accessed by ANI, the Joint Secretary said, "It is requested that exit screening of may be further intensified so as to ensure persons exhibiting symptoms suggestive of Monkeypox disease are not allowed to board the flight to minimize the risk of disease transmission."
"As the global community grapples with yet another Public Health Emergency of International concern, it is essential that IHR Focal points maintain a continuous coordination and share key information to avoid the spread of disease information across international boundaries," the letter further said.
To date, India has reported a total of eight confirmed cases of Monkeypox disease, of these cases four cases were with travel history who have arrived in India from UAE.
"As evident three of the cases were already exhibiting symptoms suggestive of Monkeypox disease before arrival in India," the Joint Secretary mentioned in the letter.
Under article 18 of International Health Regulations (IHR) 2005, the World Health Organization recommends Member States to undertake exit screening measures at Points of Entry and if required impose restrictions on persons from affected areas in response to a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC), he said in a letter referring to the regulations and further explained in the letter regarding WHO recommendations on screening measures and restrictions at Points of Entry.
Recently, Kerala has reported five cases of Monkeypox who have a travel history to UAE.
The central government is on an alert even as the count of infections in some other countries has risen.
NITI Aayog Member (Health) Dr VK Paul said that there is absolutely no need for any panic as the government has taken significant measures to keep the disease in check.
In an interview with ANI, Dr Paul sought to assert that there was no need for any undue panic but added that it was still important that the country and the society stay vigilant.
"There is no need to panic, as of now, but one must report in time if they spot any symptoms, he said.
According to World Health Organization (WHO), more than 18,000 cases have been reported from 78 countries.
"The monkeypox outbreak can be stopped if countries, communities and individuals inform themselves, take the risks seriously, and take the steps needed to stop transmission and protect vulnerable groups," said Dr Tedros, Director General, WHO on Thursday.
Monkeypox is a zoonotic disease caused by the monkeypox virus, which belongs to the same family of viruses that causes smallpox. The disease is endemic in regions like West and Central Africa but lately, cases have been reported from non-endemic countries too, according to the WHO. (ANI)