The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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States put on virus alert

New Delhi, April 2: The Centre is reluctant to press the panic button on the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) infection that has surfaced in 17 countries across the world. But it has put state governments on alert and asked them to keep hospitals ready in case the virus is detected in India.

“We are equipped to deal with the problem but there is no need to create unnecessary panic,” said B. Tyagrajan, health ministry official at a press conference. She said the government has taken steps to create awareness about the infection.

Ministry officials, however, could not specify the steps that have been taken to make the general public aware of the infection. The strategy, as of now, seems to be to keep the panic low and hospitals and staff ready.

Union health minister Sushma Swaraj toady visited Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital to check on the state of readiness in case of an emergency. Dr S. Chugh, head of the medicine department, said: “We are keeping some rooms ready in case we have to treat a SARS patient. Doctors have been given adequate protection for ‘barrier nursing’.” A crucial aspect of the treatment is to isolate the affected persons.

The National Institute of Communicable Diseases has set up a control room.

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