Man returning from Liberia tests positive for Ebola, kept under isolation

New Delhi: In the first case of Ebola in the country, an Indian national returning from Liberia has tested positive for the deadly virus and has been quarantined at a special facility at Delhi airport.

Man returning from Liberia tests positive for Ebola, kept under isolation

The Health Ministry said the 26-year-old man, who reached here on November 10, was already treated for the deadly disease in the African country and carried no symptoms but tests of his semen samples were positive, prompting authorities to put him under isolation.

This is the first confirmed case of Ebola, though the victim contracted the virus abroad and has already been treated.

“The situation is under control and there is no need for any alarm. However, all precautions are being taken in this regard,” the ministry said in a statement.

It is a known fact, the ministry said, that during convalescence from Ebola, people continue to shed virus in body fluids for variable periods.

However, presence of virus in his semen samples may have the possibility of transmitting the disease through sexual route up to 90 days from time of clinical cure, it said.

He will remain under isolation in the special health facility of Delhi Airport Health Organization till his body fluids test negative and is found medically fit to be discharged, it said, insisting that the man is a treated and cured case of Ebola.

He had carried a certificate of medical clearance from the Liberian government, mentioning that “he has successfully undergone care and treatment related to Ebola and after post treatment assessment has been declared free of any clinical signs and symptoms and confirmed negative by laboratory analysis”, the official statement said quoting the Liberian document.

His three blood samples tested here were also found negative for and, therefore, according to WHO and CDC specifications, he is deemed to be cured, it said.

“It is not an Ebola case, he is an Ebola-treated patient who is negative in blood but whose body fluid is positive. He has no symptoms,” the official said, declining to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter.

Peter Piot, a former WHO official who was one of the discoverers of the virus, has in the past expressed concerns about the disease spreading to India. There are nearly 45,000 Indian nationals living in West Africa.

Many experts say densely populated India is not adequately prepared to handle any spread of the highly infectious haemorrhagic fever among its 1.2 billion people. Government health services are overburdened and many people in rural areas struggle to get access to even basic health services.

Hygiene standards are low, especially in smaller towns and villages, and defecating and urinating in the open are common.

The current outbreak of Ebola is the worst on record. It has killed at least 5,177 people, mostly in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, according to the latest figures from the WHO.

(With agency inputs)