TIA health desk to screen for next 3 months

KATHMANDU: The government has continued to take needful preventive measures to thwart the possible spread of the Swine flu virus A (H1N1) virus. Eleven countries have officially reported laboratory confirmed human cases of influenza infection since it first broke out in Mexico some two weeks ago.

According to the Health Desk set up by the Ministry of Health and Population at the Tribhuvan International Airport, screening of the international travellers for suspected cases of influenza will go on at least for three months. Whether or not to extend the deadline for the special Health Desk will depend on the global pandemic status of the Swine flu virus.

Talking to The Himalayan Times, Dr Gajananda P Bhandari, epidemiologist and coordinator of the Desk, informed that the medical persons had screened more than 115 persons who visited the Swine flu affected countries in the last seven days. The Desk is comprised of one medical officer, two heath assistant and two staff nurses. Even the doctors at the airport are working in constant touch with the Desk.

Though the Desk screened the passengers at the airport for consecutive 3rd day on Friday, any suspected cases of influenza has not been found yet. The number of countries enlisted under surveillance directory reached 11 after the Netherlands confirmed the cases of influenza on Thursday.

The government has issued special directives to keep round-the-clock vigil on the passengers arriving from Mexico, USA, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Spain, Israel, Austria, Germany and the Netherlands.

The international passengers arriving via the airport from any of the flu affected countries are required to fill up a Swine Flu- Health Screening Card to ensure whether or not they have developed the common symptoms of the flu.

“Any persons found with common symptoms of influenza like fever, cough or sore throat and shortness of breath will be referred to the TU Teaching Hospital. Luckily we are yet to stumble upon any suspected cases so far,” stated Dr Bhandari. The Desk has requested people who develop such symptoms within five days of arrival from Swine Flu affected 11 countries to immediately contact the Teaching Hospital.

The Government and representatives of World Health Organisation (WHO) Avian Influenza Control Project in Nepal had jointly set up the Health Desk on April 28.

The ministry has also set up a follow-up health desk in Teaching Hospital.