As the number of people infected with the Zika virus rose to 80 in Rajasthan, the Union Health Ministry Tuesday directed the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to monitor the cases on a daily basis, while urging the people not to panic.
The ministry said it was working along with the state governments, the local authorities and the municipal corporations for augmenting and strengthening their efforts in vector control, surveillance and awareness activities.
Chairing a high-level meeting to review the activities for prevention and control of the Zika virus and seasonal influenza here, Union Health Minister J P Nadda also stressed the need to undertake exhaustive control measures, including fogging, while also strengthening surveillance to facilitate early identification of cases.
Zika is caused by the aedes aegypti mosquito, which also transmits dengue and chikungunya and breeds in open, stagnant water.
Nadda was also briefed about the activities undertaken by the ministry to control the Zika virus in Rajasthan.
"He was informed that 80 cases have been reported from the state while 330 teams have already been deployed in the affected wards of Shastri Nagar (Jaipur). A population of about 4,34,515 has been brought under surveillance.
"Around 86,903 houses have been surveyed. 2,04,875 breeding sites were checked for larvae breeding and 74,483 were found to have larvae breeding," an official statement issued after the meeting said.
It pointed out that health workers undertook on-spot source reduction and containers were treated with temiphose during the survey.
The health workers have also carried out focal spray and fogging in the affected areas, which were recommended by the team supervisors.
Meanwhile, Rajasthan Health Minister Kalicharan Saraf said awareness drives have been initiated in schools to sensitise students about the disease.
With a majority of the cases being reported from Shastri Nagar in Jaipur, the state Health Department has issued an advisory for pregnant women to not visit the area.
"Considering the seasonality of the seasonal influenza, Nadda has directed the officials to ensure continuous monitoring and vigil on all cases. He has specifically instructed that early detection, reporting and proper categorisation of patients is critical for seasonal influenza management," the official statement said.
"The minister has instructed the NCDC to monitor the cases on a daily basis. He has suggested that the states shall ensure that proper awareness is created regarding the prevention and management of seasonal influenza. All states shall also ensure that sufficient supplies of drugs and testing kits are maintained," it added.
All cases that require hospitalisation shall be monitored intensively both at the district and state level so as to ensure that fatalities are avoided, the minister has stressed, while adding that availability of sufficient functional ventilators for critical case management is important and the states shall be advised accordingly.
"The NCDC and EMR shall coordinate with the states to provide training for ventilator management, if need be," the statement said.
During the meeting, Nadda assured all the states of all support from the Centre, while emphasising the need for continuous monitoring to control the Zika virus in Rajasthan.
He said the health ministry was in regular contact with the state officials. The statement said Nadda spoke to the Rajasthan chief minister Tuesday, while the Union health secretary was monitoring the situation on a daily basis, in coordination with the state health secretary.
Nadda also spoke to the Maharashtra chief minister and the health ministers of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala, asking them to remain vigilant, and assured them of all the assistance from the Centre to check the spread of the H1N1 virus.
"Nadda stressed the need for undertaking exhaustive measures, including intensive fogging, next month in order to ensure vector control. He also stressed on strengthening surveillance to facilitate early identification of cases.
"The Union Health Minister urged the people to not panic and cooperate with the health officials in controlling the breeding of the vectors. He further said that there was no shortage of medicines and testing kits and that required support will be provided to the states," the statement said.
Nadda directed the officials to mount aggressive communication campaigns in the states, while noting that awareness was key in controlling vector-borne diseases.
"No stone should be left unturned to reach out to the people," he said.
Noting that community participation was a crucial area in prevention, the Union health minister urged all the stakeholders to launch awareness campaigns regarding the preventive steps to be taken at the community level.
"He said the Union Health Ministry was working along with the state governments, the local authorities and the municipal corporations for augmenting and strengthening their efforts in vector control, surveillance and awareness activities," the statement said.
In India, the first outbreak of Zika was reported in Ahmedabad in January 2017 and the second in Tamil Nadu's Krishnagiri district in July that year. Both these outbreaks were successfully contained through intensive surveillance and vector management.