Defer travel to countries hit by swine flu, Indians told

The government has issued a travel advisory, asking Indians to avoid visits to Mexico, US, Canada, New Zealand and France in the wake of the swine flu outbreak even as the union health ministry held high-level meeting on measures to check a swine flu outbreak.

The health ministry called a meeting of experts from the National Institute of Communicable Diseases and the Indian Council of Medical Research to chalk out measures to contain the virus from spreading in Asian countries.

To ensure public safety, all travellers flying into India from Mexico, the US, Canada, New Zealand and France would be individually checked for flu symptoms - like fever and upper respiratory tract infection. All passengers arriving from Mexico will be specially tested in the waker of the killer virus spreading across the world.

Two doctors each will be stationed at six major airports of Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore and Goa to check all passengers.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has reported human cases of Swine Influenza A (HINI) caused by a re-assorted swine flue virus. The cases, first noticed in Mexico, has spread to neighbouring United States and Canada. Suspected cases are also being reported from New Zealand, Spain, France and UK. As on date there are about 1,200 suspect cases reported with over 100 deaths. The WHO has officially designated this outbreak as public health emergency of international concern. However, WHO has yet not caused the pandemic alert phase, a government release said.

Keeping in view the global scenario, the government said it is instituting a series of preventive actions that include surveillance at ports and international airports, surveillance through integrated disease surveillance units in the states and issuing travel advisory for those traveling to the affected areas to defer on essential travel.

The states have been advised to review their preparedness to investigate and contain any suspected cluster of influenza like illness. The central government would be supporting the states in terms of guidelines, experts, material logistics and laboratory support.

The 24x7 call centre under `Integrated Diseases Surveillance Project' (Toll free No 1075) would be attending to calls from the public regarding reporting of influenza like Illness, the release said.