Monday, Apr 07, 2003
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By Our Special Correspondent
Addressing a press conference here after chairing a review meeting of officials of her Ministry and the Airports Authority of India, the Union Health Minister, Sushma Swaraj, said there was no need to press the panic button as the Government health machinery was fully geared up to tackle the deadly viral infection.
The apprehensions of a SARS infection in Bhopal had turned out to be "false" and it was a case of plain pneumonia, she added.
Denying that the Government response had been slow, Ms. Swaraj said it had acted with "supersonic speed" to despatch a specialist team from Delhi, get the lab tests done and make the results available in less than a day.
"We have taken all precautions to meet any eventuality. We have time and again checked our preparedness and identified the hospitals in all major cities where an infected person can be treated in isolation."
Immigration officials have been advised to wear masks and gloves as a precautionary measure.
And health officers from the Directorate-General of Health Services would be posted at the immigration counters to go through the proformas of the passengers.
"It will help us in screening their symptoms and also getting to know which countries a passenger has been to in the past week as the deadly virus has an incubation period of about a week," she said adding that all Indian embassies and missions have been advised on the SARS. The Minister said that a set of primers, an essential item in the diagnostic kit, had been imported from Germany and would be shared by the National Institute of Communicable Diseases and the National Institute of Virology, Pune.
The Infectious Diseases Hospital here had also been asked to remain fully geared up to meet any situation.
Asked if the high-level delegations from Singapore and Sri Lanka, slated to arrive here this week, would also be asked to fill up the proformas, she said: "Anybody and everybody who arrives at any of the international airport will be required to do so".
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