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China pneumonia outbreak: Maha may screen int travellers at airports

Officials from the state’s public health department have said that if the need arises, Maharashtra may begin screening arrivals at international airports as a precautionary measure, in light of the rising cases of respiratory illness in China. A meeting of all state-level and central-level health officials, along with representatives from the World Health Organization and doctors from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), was held in this regard on Sunday.

One of the points of discussion was the possibility of increasing disease surveillance at airports. “There is no written communication or guidelines regarding the same but checking for fever and keeping an eye out for unusual symptoms at airports was discussed in the meeting,” said Dr Dilip Salunkhe, a medical officer with the state’s public health department.

According to Dr Salunkhe, the health department has issued an advisory to private hospitals in the state. “We have already asked them to update their infrastructure and alert us to any unusual cases. Apart from this, we have ready government-run infrastructure that was set up when Covid-19 was on the rise,” he said.

It is noteworthy that the state has not reported any unusual cases so far. The meeting was held on the same day the Centre, in a letter, asked the states to review hospital preparedness in case a situation similar to that in China arises in India, while clarifying that there was no need to be alarmed.

Recently, northern parts of China reported a rise in respiratory illness predominantly attributed to usual causes like Influenza, Mycoplasma pneumonia, SARS-CoV-2, etc. This surge has largely impacted children, leaving many hospitalised.

“All states and Union Territories have been advised to implement the ‘Operational Guidelines for Revised Surveillance Strategy in the context of Covid-19,’ shared earlier this year, which provides for integrated surveillance of respiratory pathogens presenting as cases of influenza-like illness (ILI) and severe acute respiratory illness (SARI),” the Union Health Ministry said in a statement on Sunday. Mid-Day

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