Monkeypox India tally rises to eight; all states on high alert
The monkeypox case tally in the country reached eight on Tuesday as two more patients were reported in Kerala and Delhi, prompting states to ramp up preparations to check the spread of the infection.
Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said a national task force had been set up to monitor the development of diagnostics and vaccines.
The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has successfully isolated the monkeypox virus and an expression of interest has been floated for research institutions, vaccine and diagnostic kits manufacturers in India to take the virus strain for further research to develop a vaccine in the country, he informed Rajya Sabha.
Meanwhile, Serum Institute of India CEO Adar Poonawalla said his firm was conducting research to find a vaccine against monkeypox.
Poonawalla is learnt to have briefed Mandaviya on the subject during a meeting at the Nirman Bhawan in the national capital on Tuesday.
With fresh cases being reported, other states too issued advisories regarding the infection, which has symptoms like fever, swollen lymph nodes, skin eruptions and lesions.
Till now, eight cases have been reported across the country, including three from Delhi and five from Kerala, which had also recorded a fatality due to the infection.
The new patient in Kerala has a foreign travel history. The 30-year-old man came to the state from UAE last month, while the Delhi patient had no recent history of taking a journey.
Kerala Health Minister Veena George on Tuesday said the man had arrived at the Calicut Airport on July 27 and was undergoing treatment at a hospital in the Malappuram district. His health condition is stable.
The Delhi patient is a 35-year-old man of African origin with no recent history of foreign travel. The man was admitted to the Delhi government-run LNJP Hospital on Monday, they said, adding that he is in stable condition.
The first monkeypox patient in Delhi was discharged on Monday night. With the reports of two suspected patients awaited, the Delhi government has stepped up vigil and set up 70 isolation rooms across six hospitals in the national capital to tackle the monkeypox situation.
Seventy isolation rooms have been set up across six hospitals in Delhi to tackle the monkeypox situation, officials said, hours after the national capital reported its third case of the viral disease.
Twenty of these rooms have been set up at the Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan (LNJP) Hospital, the nodal centre for treatment of confirmed and suspected cases of monkeypox, while 10 isolation rooms each have been established in five other hospitals in the city.
The Uttarakhand National Health Mission (NHM) asked all district magistrates and chief medical officers to strengthen monkeypox surveillance in the state and keep the health system on alert.
It said even one case reported from anywhere in the state should be treated as an outbreak and reported to the district surveillance team.
Amid rising concerns over the infection, Mandaviya informed Rajya Sabha about the various steps being taken to prevent the spread of the disease and to develop testing kits and vaccines.
Till date eight cases of the disease have been detected in India, out of which five have foreign travel history, the Minister of Health and Family Welfare said.
The minister said the National Institute of Virology, Pune, under ICMR, has been designated as a referral laboratory for testing suspected cases.
In addition, 15 other ICMR-VRDL (Viral Research and Diagnostic Laboratory) network laboratories have been optimised to undertake diagnostic testing for monkeypox disease.
Mandaviya, in response to another supplementary question, said the government has relied on the experience of tackling COVID, to be alert and prepared in advance to prevent the spread of any disease.
He said when the disease was first reported globally in May, India had already started preparing to tackle it.
The first case of monkeypox, a rare but potentially serious viral illness, was reported in Kollam district on July 14 and the patient was discharged from the hospital last week.
(With Agency inputs)