The Centre on Monday directed all seaports and airports to ensure strict screening of all international passengers after two monkeypox cases were reported in Kerala. The government also directed effective coordination between state administrations, Bureau of Immigration, airport and port health offices.
The Union health ministry held a review meeting which was attended by airport and port health officers and directors from regional offices of health and family welfare. “They were advised to ensure strict health screening of all arriving international travellers which can minimise the risk of importation of monkeypox cases into the country,” the ministry said in a statement.
“They were also advised to coordinate with other stakeholder agencies like Immigration at international ports and airports to streamline health screening processes besides ensuring suitable linkages with hospital facilities earmarked to each port of entry for timely referral and isolation,” it further said.
The second monkeypox case was reported on Monday when a 31-year-old man from Kannur tested positive. The patient arrived in Kerala from Dubai via Mangaluru on July 13. He is undergoing treatment at the Pariyaram Medical College, state Health Minister Veena George said.
The minister also said that all those who were in close contact with the patient are being closely monitored.
The first case of monkeypox was reported from Kollam district of south Kerala on July 14.
According to the World Health Organisation, monkeypox is a viral zoonosis (a virus transmitted to humans from animals), with symptoms similar to those seen in the past in smallpox patients, although it is clinically less severe.
With the eradication of smallpox in 1980 and subsequent cessation of smallpox vaccination, monkeypox has emerged as the most important orthopoxvirus for public health.