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Centre denies reports of `viral storm' in Nicobar

By Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI, JAN. 2. The Government today denied that a ``viral storm is brewing'' in the Nicobar Island and maintained that such reports were on an isolated incident of Vibrio cholerae, a common bacterial infection, which occurred in the island more than two years ago but was published by a scientific journal in May this year. There has been no similar case after the October 2002 incident till date. The Regional Medical Research Centre of Indian Council of Medical Research in Port Blair, which conducted the earlier study, has confirmed that till date no incident of similar nature has occurred again. The Government also said there has been no unusual occurrence of diarrhoea in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands after the December 26 tsunami incident. The surveillance for early detection of any epidemic is in place.

As per World Health Organisation guidelines, mass vaccination against cholera is not advised as it gives a false sense of security against the disease and diverts resources and manpower from more useful control activities.

Doctors sent

The Union Health Minister, Anbumani Ramadoss, who has been camping in Chennai, is monitoring the situation on the health front. The Union Health Ministry and the ICMR have already dispatched teams of doctors to the islands along with emergency medical supplies, including chlorine tablets and bleaching powder, to prevent outbreak of any epidemic. A high-level team led by the Additional Director-General of Health Services and Director National Institute of Communicable Diseases are in Port Blair overseeing the medical relief activities.The team of Central and State doctors are being strengthened by additional teams of medical experts from Delhi as the need arises. A total of 32 doctors, including six public health specialists, have been deployed to assist State health specialists. In addition, 20 staff nurses have been deputed from the Centre and deployed in the Islands. Ten paramedics are also assisting the Central teams. A radiographer is being sent to Car Nicobar on the request of the island health authorities.

Supply of medicines

The Centre has also dispatched drugs worth Rs. 40 lakhs, including bleaching powder and chlorine tablets. The island authorities have also requisitioned for more medical items which are being dispatched. Medicines such as Cephalexin, Suphamethaxazone, Roxid, Metrinidazole, patient stretchers and surgical items have also been dispatched to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands over the last few days.

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