Zero Zika Virus Cases In India: Health Minister JP Nadda

New Delhi: Stating that there is not a single case of Zika virus, suspected of causing serious birth defects, in India, the Centre on Monday said it will come out with guidelines to prevent the disease within the next 48 hours.

Union Health Minister J P Nadda, who chaired a high-level meeting on Sunday on the issue, said that detailed discussions were held on the proposed guidelines for the Zika virus and based on the outcome of the emergency meet called by the World Health Organisation (WHO), India will issue the guidelines.

“Discussed guidelines for Zika virus, assessed preparedness, no case reported in India yet. Based on outcome of WHO meet on Zika virus, we will issue detailed guidelines in next 48 hrs,” Mr Nadda said in a series of tweets.

“The guidelines will be for managing situation arising out of the Zika virus, tackling it and preventive measures. Travel advisory will also be issued for the affected countries,” a senior official told PTI.

Senior officials of the Health Ministry, including the Union Health secretary B P Sharma, Director General Health Services Jagdish Prasad, officials from Indian Council of Medical Research and National Centre for Disease Control were present during the meeting.

WHO committee called an emergency meeting in Geneva on Sunday on the response to the Zika virus and will decide whether to designate the mosquito-borne virus – which has been linked to serious birth defects – a global emergency.

The Zika virus is “spreading explosively” in the Americas and can infect upto four million people, WHO has warned and also issued a warning to all countries, including India. Aedes Aegypti mosquito carries Zika virus which is suspected to cause brain damage in babies.

This mosquito also carries the viruses that cause dengue and chikungunya which are of great public health concern in tropical countries like India. The outbreak began in Brazil last year and has now spread to 24 countries in the Americas.

Mr Nadda had convened a meeting on the issue last week where he had directed his ministry to constitute a technical group to monitor the situation arising out of the Zika virus.

“Community awareness plays an instrumental role in this regard. There is a need for greater awareness amongst community,” he had said.

Senior Health officials had said that the ministry is also in the process of issuing a travel advisory which will among other issues will advise pregnant women against travelling to affected countries.

Zika virus is believed to cause neurological problems like microcephaly, a condition of abnormally small head in babies.

Such is the level of alarm that many central and Latin American countries like El Salvador, Colombia and Ecuador have urged women to postpone pregnancy till 2018.