India on Wednesday announced a grant of $50,000 each to some Ebola-affected countries, including Liberia, apart from putting in place various steps in the light of the outbreak of the virus in West African countries, including screening and tracking of passengers coming or transiting from there.
The government has also asked its nationals to defer non -essential travel to that region. While External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj approved grant of $50,000 to Republic of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone for purchase of medicines in fight against Ebola, Health Minister Harsh Vardhan informed Parliament that there are close to 45,000 Indians in the affected countries. He also said if the situation worsens in these countries, there could be possibility of Indians staying there travelling back.
"All precautions are being taken by us. While the risk of Ebola virus cases in India is low, preparedness measures are in place to deal with any case of the virus imported to India," the minister said in a statement. World Health Organisation has reported 1603 cases, including 887 deaths, till August 4 in four countries including Guinea. The number of cases in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria are 485, 468, 646 and four respectively from these countries and the corresponding death toll is 358, 255, 273 and 1 respectively.
Mandatory self-reporting by passengers coming from or transiting through the affected countries would be required at immigration check, Vardhan said, adding in-flight announcements regarding this would also be made by the airlines.
"There would be designated facilities at the relevant airports/ports to manage travellers manifesting symptoms of the disease. The surveillance system would be geared up to track these travellers for four weeks and to detect them early, in case they develop symptoms," he said. Vardhan said the risk of transmission of the virus to countries outside Africa is "low" but "we would obtain details of travellers originating or transiting through affected countries to India and tracking these persons after their arrival up to their final destination".
A review meeting was held on Tuesday which was attended by representatives from Health, Home, External Affairs and Civil Aviation ministries besides those from armed forces, National Disaster Management Authority and WHO.