Bangalore: With the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates reporting a good number of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) cases, screening centres at the Bangalore and Mangalore International airports will be opened any time now.
The government of Karnataka, cognizant of the fact that a large number of people from the state are earning their livelihood in the Middle East, is taking serious measures to tackle the disease before it becomes a major problem.
Federal Health Minister U.T. Khader said that District Surveillance officers were briefed by health department at Bangalore. International guidelines on active surveillance for MERS has not been issued and thus all passengers cannot be screened. Khader added that passengers with symptoms will be told to approach the screening counters for assistance.
Announcements will be made at the airports to approach the screening counter in case a passenger has symptoms. The medical personnel at the counter will give the passenger necessary instructions and Information, Education and Counselling (IEC).
"If a passenger shows symptoms associated with Mers, we will collect blood samples and send it to National Institute of Virology, Pune or Delhi. In case the sample is positive, the person will be treated with Tamiflu, the same drug used to treat H1N1,'' UT Khader, who has been pro-active on the health front," said.
Even Kerala, where a big numbers keep arriving in the state from the GCC sector, is keeping a watch on the situation. All Medical Officers in the state have been given strict instruction to monitor and keep people returning from Gulf countries with any symptoms under observation. The world's total death toll from the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (Mers) coronavirus has passed the 200-mark and is still going up.
As of last week, the cumulative global number of Mers infections since September 2012 was 661, of which 205 patients have died, data compiled from reports of the Saudi Health Ministry and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control showed.
Saudi Arabia bore the brunt of the outbreak, with the Health Ministry's count on May 23, 2014 standing at 551 cases, including 177 deaths.
AFTAB H. KOLA - Our Correspondent