In the wake of recent WHO warning that Zika infectionss are "highly likely" to spread in Asia, the Centre has said its preparedness is "very satisfactory" even as it asked its officials to formulate a response framework and action plan within 10 days to effectively tackle the virus. Health Minister JP Nadda held a high-level meeting in this regard yesterday which was attended by senior ministry officials, representatives from National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and those from hospitals of central government. Nadda said, "In terms of the action taken and various activities being carried they are very satisfactory. Our prevention mechanism too is in place." Earlier this week, the WHO had warned Zika infections are "highly likely" to keep spreading in Asia. Nadda enumerated various measures being undertaken by the government as per guidelines issued in February this year. "Surveillance is being carried out at airports to monitor inbound passengers.
All international airports and ports have displayed signage providing information for travellers on Zika virus and asking them to report if they are returning from affected countries," Nadda said. ICMR has tested nearly 15,000 human samples and 6,000 aedes mosquitoes for presence of Zika virus and found them to be negative, the Minister said. A travel advisory was issued last month recommending people to defer their non-essential travel to affected countries and also asking pregnant women to refrain from visiting these countries. The minister also said that apart from existing 14 laboratories equipped to test the virus, 11 more are being strengthened. NCDC has been made the nodal agency for investigation of outbreak in any part of the country. Meanwhile, with the onset of winters, the Centre is also gearing up for tackling H1N1 virus which causes swine flu. Nadda assured that adequate quantity of Oseltamivir drug recommended by WHO is available across all states. According to the government, there is sufficient stock of personal protective equipment and N-95 masks. The minister has instructed that a group of technical experts examine ways and means to increase the availability of diagnostic tests and the drug Oseltamivir at peripheral levels including with chemists in private sector. Isolation facilities will also be put in place across hospitals from November. The Centre has offered help to the states to train health workers to deal with cases of swine flu and will also assist them provide effective ventilatory management.
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