New Delhi: The government said no case of Ebola virus has been reported in India so far, even as it announced the setting up of emergency helplines to assist people.
"As of today, this moment, there is no Ebola case reported in India. There is no need to panic," Health Minister Harsh Vardhan told reporters outside parliament.
Dr Harsh Vardhan
At the onset of the disease, a patient experiences fatigue, fever, headache, sore throat and pain in the joints and muscles. The initial symptoms are so common that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the US says cases are often misdiagnosed.
Harsh Vardhan said the government was taking all measures and keeping a close watch over the movement of people into India from African nations affected by the virus.
There are about 45,000 Indians in the Ebola-affected countries.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) Friday declared the Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak in West Africa as an "international health emergency".
"A coordinated international response is deemed essential to stop and reverse the international spread of Ebola," the WHO said in a statement issued after a two-day meeting of its emergency committee.
It noted that the Ebola outbreak in west Africa constituted an "extraordinary event" and a public health risk to other countries.
Harsh Vardhan said his ministry has opened a 24-hour "emergency operation centre" (helpline) which will be functional from Saturday.
He assured that the government had begun taking steps ahead of the WHO declaration.
"There is no cause for panic. We have put in operation the most advanced surveillance and tracking systems," he said.
In New Delhi, the Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital has been identified for treatment and management of any case of Ebola.
Harsh Vardhan said the ministry was alerted by the WHO about a traveller who landed in New Delhi July 20 as a confirmed case of EVD.
"He was traced to Dwarka in southwest Delhi. This person was found to be healthy," he said.
The health minister also informed that a mechanism has been worked out in consultation with the civil aviation and home ministries for collection and collation of information on travellers to India through the affected countries.
Flight passengers will be made to mandatorily declare through health cards their movement in the recent past and their addresses in India, he said in a statement.
The database thus developed would help in the tracking of people who later develop symptoms.