The Indian government has established a special Ebola care and quarantine facility at Delhi Airport, designed for patients with Ebola symptoms, but it is mindful that most who enter the country with similar symptoms are eventually diagnosed with malaria, typhoid fever, or other dangerous diseases.
The Hindustan Times reports that the facility is live and functional and will take in any patients who arrive in India with excessive bleeding, high fever, or other symptoms characteristic of the virus. The newspaper explains that India has an above average intake of international travelers with illnesses due to a phenomenon known as “medical tourism.” This is a situation where individuals travel to the nation because they trust those doctors more than the ones in their own country and fly into India specifically because they are sick.
According to a hospital source speaking to the Hindustan Times, many of those who have been tested for Ebola choose to enter India because they need medical care: “Just on August 15, the passenger who was brought to us with high fever eventually tested positive for malaria.” The source continued, “When airport authorities find them running high fever they rush them to us straight for Ebola screening.” These individuals, he explained, are “bound to turn negative cases.”
The result of such tourism is that medical resources that could prevent Ebola from reaching India are wasted on cases that are almost certainly not Ebola, and national health authorities are concerned that India cannot afford such expansive testing. The International Business Times notes much of what the Delhi checkpoint will do is test for fever, though that, too, will not significantly narrow the potential for Ebola testing. At Ram Manohar Lohia (RML) Hospital in Delhi, the IBT highlights, sources claim there are between one and two cases a day of suspected Ebola contamination, but no one has tested positive.
India’s Health Minister Harsh Vardhan has called the potential for an Ebola outbreak in the nation “low,” though he said in a statement that India has “put in operation the most advanced surveillance and tracking systems” for Ebola.
In addition to establishing Ebola testing centers around the nation, particularly at airports, India has a number of doctors serving in West Africa and helping treat Ebola victims. The doctors triggered a controversy last week in Nigeria, where six doctors insisted on being allowed to return to India and alleged that the hospital employing them threatened to confiscate their passports if they insisted on leaving.