BMC asks airport authorities for machines to screen passengers for Ebola virus

Oct 26, 2014, 06:48 IST | Chetna Yerunkar

The move comes into play on the recommendations of the state government

With the spread of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) alarming the whole world, the Maharashtra state government had asked the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) last week to request airport authorities to install more screening machines at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport and carry out accurate tests on passengers.

At a meeting of top government officials last week, the chief secretary asked the BMC to write to the airport authorities about the same, after the media reported the deaths of Ebola-stricken patients in foreign countries.

When the Ebola scare first hit the city around three months ago, the airport authorities allotted a room in JJ Hospital to isolate a passenger suspected of suffering from the symptoms of EVD.

The screening machines will help check the body temperature of an individual. Further medical checks will be conducted on those with a high temperature. “The airport will soon carry out the measures suggested by us,” said a senior BMC official, on condition of anonymity. Sanjay Deshmukh, the additional municipal commissioner (Health), said, “In a recent meeting, the chief secretary ordered an increase in the number of screening machines, which will check the body temperatures of passengers. We have written to them.”

Experts, however, were doubtful about the machines’ efficiency. Prof Ramanan Laxminarayan, a speaker at the upcoming TEDxGateway 2014 and Drug Resistance Economist, said, “Temperature screening at airports is not a particularly effective tool for Ebola since patients can develop a fever after entering the city, too. Also, the machines may pick up many false positive cases. On the plus side, the screening will give the public an assurance that the government is prepared. India is at a low risk to and the preparations in the eventuality of a case are strong.”

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