New Delhi: The third monkeypox case was confirmed in the national capital bringing the total cases to eight in India. As monkeypox cases are rising in the country, Dr Mansukh Mandaviya, Union Health Minister said not to allay fears over the zoonotic disease and informed that India had already begun preparations to combat the contagious disease.
So far there is one casualty confirmed due to monkeypox. A youth who had arrived in Thrissur, Kerala from the UAE a few days ago succumbed to the infection. Following the fatality, the central government sent the task force to monitor the virus situation.
Dr Mandaviya while answering questions about the response and preparedness for monkeypox in the Lok Sabha today said, “Monkeypox is not a new disease it has been detected in various countries since 1970. Presently it was first reported in May 2022, when cases were reported from various countries then WHO raised the issue of the spread and started monitoring it closely.”
“Post that India started monitoring the situation. Monkeypox spreads through deep contact, it doesn’t infect any specific individual, people coming in deep contact with those infected are prone to the infection and transmission of the disease. Due to this the scenario in India is being monitored closely.”
The Minister spoke on how the learnings from the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us to be prepared. It is very crucial to be prepared for the disease in advance to curb its spread. Globally when the roots of monkeypox cases were being confirmed, India started preparing to tackle monkeypox.
“Global cases were confirmed in May 2002, and the first case in India was confirmed on July 14, 2022, in Kerala. By May 31, 2022, all states were issued guidelines for surveillance, how to monitor and tackle the disease if cases were confirmed, how contact tracing was to be performed and how samples were to be stored and sent to the National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune and there are 15 more such institutes where the samples can be tested,” added The Minister in the Lower House.
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He further added India is prepared to tackle cases of monkeypox. To date, eight cases have been confirmed in the country out of which five have a history of foreign travel.
“What we have witnessed is that people during screening have been consuming paracetamol to regulate the body temperature to evade thermal screening. To prevent this from happening we have written to the UAE government to trace people who are travelling and share the reports with the Indian government so that we can monitor such cases,” he added.
He emphasised that for confirmed cases contact tracing was done and tests were performed to check if others were infected. “This is being done diligently as we have learnt this from the COVID-19 crisis and we are implementing these learnings for handling the monkeypox outbreak,” said Dr Mandaviya.
He assured, “Monkeypox disease isn’t high risk and precautionary measures will go a long way in preventing the spread of the disease. People infected need to be isolated and contacts need to be traced for infection. Being prepared and alert, I am sure we will be able to control the spread of monkeypox.”
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“It is important not to take any disease lightly, it needs to be taken seriously. We also don’t want any citizen to succumb to any disease, in the case of monkeypox public awareness is very crucial. The centre has commissioned a task force for monkeypox, which will study the scenario in the country, and letters have been written to the state governments. States need to initiate awareness campaigns, experts can spread awareness to the public through television,” reiterated Mandaviya.
“There is no need to panic, patients need to be isolated and family members of the patient need to maintain distance from the patient. Talking too much about the disease could create panic amongst the public. There is no need to fear in the case of monkeypox, the Indian government in association with state governments is spreading awareness amongst the citizens about monkeypox to curb its spread,” concluded Mandaviya.