NEW DELHI: Centre has formed a task force in the wake of Monkeypox cases in India to monitor and provide guidance to the government on the expansion of diagnostic facilities and to explore vaccination for the infection in the country.
The decision was taken during a meeting which was attended by Cabinet secretary, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan, Additional Secretary (PMO) and other senior officials.
"The team will be headed by Dr VK Paul, member (Health), NITI Aayog and members including Secretary, Union Health Ministry, Pharma and Biotech," sources told ANI.
India has reported four Monkeypox cases so far, three cases in Kerala and one in Delhi. A youth in Kerala presenting monkeypox-like symptoms died, following which state Health Minister Veena George initiated a high-level inquiry.
"A high-level inquiry will be conducted into the death of a person with symptoms of monkeypox in Chavakkad Kuranjiyur. The result of the test conducted in a foreign country was positive. He sought treatment in Thrissur," George said. "Delay in seeking treatment will be investigated. The health department called a meeting in Punnayur regarding the death of a young man due to monkeypox. A contact list and route map of the deceased youth were prepared," she added.
The health department called a meeting in Punnayur regarding the death of a young man allegedly due to Monkeypox. Meanwhile, a contact list and route map of the deceased youth has been prepared. Contact persons are advised to undergo isolation. The central government is on an alert even as the count of infections in some other countries has risen.
NITI Aayog's member (Health) Dr V K Paul said that there is absolutely no need for any panic as the government has taken significant measures to keep the disease in check. In an interview with ANI, Dr Paul sought to assert that there was no need for any undue panic but added that it was still important that the country and the society stay vigilant. "There is no need to panic, as of now, but one must report in time if they spot any symptoms, he said.
According to World Health Organization (WHO), more than 18,000 cases have been reported from 78 countries. "The monkeypox outbreak can be stopped if countries, communities and individuals inform themselves, take the risks seriously, and take the steps needed to stop transmission and protect vulnerable groups," said Dr Tedros, Director General, WHO on Thursday.
Monkeypox is a zoonotic disease caused by the monkeypox virus, which belongs to the same family of viruses that causes smallpox. The disease is endemic in regions like West and Central Africa but lately, cases have been reported from non-endemic countries too, according to the WHO.