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People return from Ebola-hit nations amid tight screening at Indian airports


A man suspected of carrying Ebola virus being taken to RML Hospital from IGI Terminal in New Delhi on Tuesday. The people, including two women and a child, who arrived in Delhi have been taken to a designated hospital where they will be monitored for any symptoms of the virus and tests will be conducted, officials said. Photo: PTI/ Shirish Shete

New Delhi/Mumbai: With Indians fleeing west African nations in the wake of Ebola outbreak, six persons who arrived at Delhi airport on Tuesday from and around Liberia, were quarantined for tests while 85 others were cleared at Mumbai airport after they were found free of the symptoms.

The people, including two women and a child, who arrived in Delhi have been taken to a designated hospital where they will be monitored for any symptoms of the virus and tests will be conducted, officials said.

Amid elaborate precautionary arrangements, all 85 Indians who arrived in Mumbai airport from Liberia and Nigeria were cleared by the Airport Health Organisation (APHO).  These passengers arrived in three batches, Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL) said in a statement.

The first group of 20 passengers arrived on board South African Airways flight SA 284 at 5 AM from Liberia via Johannesburg and were cleared by the APHO team after screening under supervision of health ministry officials.

None of them showed any symptoms of Ebola or had a history of contact with anybody afflicted with the disease, MIAL said.  After disembarkation of all the passengers the aircraft were disinfected by the APHO teams.  This was followed by another batch of 46 Indians from Liberia who arrived by Ethiopian Airline flight ET 610 soon after.

These passengers were also cleared after going through all the precautionary checks and screening, sources said.  Nineteen others who came from Nigeria were also screened by APHO team for EVD and cleared, sources said.

A total of 44,700 Indians are living in different countries affected by Ebola, a deadly virus that has claimed over 1400 lives so far.

According to sources at the Delhi Airport, aircraft coming from these areas will be taken to a remote bay.

Passengers will be asked to fill up a form mentioning whether they have shown any symptoms related to Ebola.  They would also be made to pass through a thermal scanner and anybody who has temperatures above the normal temperature - showing signs of fever - will be quarantined.

A separate screening area has also been set up at the airport.  Similar steps have been taken at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (CSIA) in Mumbai.

According to Mumbai International Airport Limited, passengers without any symptoms will be cleared and shifted to terminal for immigration and customs clearance, those coming from Liberia with symptoms suggestive of EVD, will be directly shifted to designated hospital in ambulance from the bay.

According to MIAL, Ethiopian Airline, Emirates, Etihad, Qatar, Jet and South African Airways are flying these passengers to Mumbai.

Some of these passengers will first arrive in Delhi and then come to Mumbai by domestic airlines flight, MIAL said.  Mial also said the baggage of the flights need to be kept separate by the concerned airline in their custody, adding disinfection of the flight will be carried out once all passengers would be deboarded.

Flights will be allowed to board next passengers only after thirty minutes of disinfection, it added.

Five hundred Indians are living in the Republic of Guinea, 3,000 in Liberia and 1,200 in Sierra Leone, from where the maximum cases have been reported. Nigeria has a much larger presence of nearly 40,000 Indian citizens.

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