passengers arrive at airport
The Indira Gandhi International Airport has set up a new facility to quarantine the incoming passengers, suspected of carrying the Ebola virus. (Representational Image)Reuters

A health facility to quarantine passengers who show symptoms of the Ebola virus has finally been set up at the Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) in New Delhi.

The passengers who showed symptoms of the virus were rushed to the Ram Manohar Lohia (RML) Hospital in the city, where they have been quarantined, till their blood tests come back. 

"It will help to tackle suspected cases at the airport hospital," Dr HK Kar, the Medical Superintendent of RML Hospital, told Hindustan Times.

However, reports from RML suggest that the airport authorities mainly check whether the passengers have fever (one of the symptoms of Ebola is fever).

The problem with this is that many of these suspected Ebola cases test positive for fever since they have other diseases, such as malaria, dengue, typhoid. Hence, it causes a lot of panic in the hospital, for something trivial as malaria.

Sources within the hospital claim that RML has been getting around two or three suspected Ebola cases, every day. Most of their blood tests come back negative for the virus, which has killed over a thousand people in the West African countries of Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria.

Many of these passengers come to India for medical tourism, according to sources from within the hospital. Hence, some of these people already have fever when they land in India. However, fever is a symptom of many diseases, and is not exclusive to the Ebola virus.

It could get more hectic at RML Hospital as all passengers who have fever are sent to the hospital. So the facility at the IGIA should have the infrastructure to keep the suspected cases under quarantine, until their blood tests are back. If they test positive for Ebola, they would be sent to RML Hospital.

"These people are here for elective surgeries and form a substantial part of medical tourism in the country," said an unnamed staff from RML Hospital.

"Just on August 15, the passenger who was brought to us with high fever eventually tested positive for malaria. When airport authorities find them running high fever they rush them to us straight for Ebola screening. You have to test them and they are bound to turn negative cases."

Three Nigerians were suspected to have been carrying the virus. Two of them have been released, however, the third person's blood tests have come back inconclusive.

Other international airports in the country have also been on high alert, with the airports in Hyderabad and Kochi setting up teams of doctors to screen the in-coming West African passengers.

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