The Centre and Maharashtra Government today informed the Bombay High Court that they had taken adequate measures to prevent the spread of Ebola virus in the wake of a large number of Indians fleeing the West African countries to return home.
However, the bench headed by Justice Abhay Oka, after hearing the Centre and going through the affidavit filed by the state government, asked whether the authorities were medically screening the passengers arriving from the Ebola-hit countries. To this, the lawyers of both the governments said they had no instructions as of now and would inform the court about this later.
The bench, considering the importance of the existing situation, asked the Centre and the State to seek instructions and make a statement tomorrow whether they were medically examining the passengers or else the court would pass necessary orders. The court was hearing a PIL filed by former journalist Ketan Tirodkar saying that the government was not fully equipped to tackle the spread of Ebola virus.
The Centre told the court there were 18 international airports in as many as 12 states in India where passengers from the affected countries are disembarking. These states have identified their nodal officers and the hospitals attached to the airports for isolation and management of suspected Ebola victims.
Besides, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare had set up a control room-cum-helpline 011-23061469, which had so far received 680 calls since its inception on August 9. Most of the callers sought information on symptoms of the disease and travel-related risk of acquiring the infection.
Immigration officers have been trained in 12 of the 18 international airports where such flights disembark. Crew members of the flights arriving in Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Kochi and Trivandrum (total 11 airlines) have been sensitised on measures to be taken and for passenger screening at the airports, the Centre said in a note.