KOCHI: The third health and quarantine station in the country was commissioned at the Cochin International Airport in wake of the outbreak of yellow fever in various parts of the world. With the commissioning of the quarantine station in Kochi, the practice of redirecting passengers arriving from the affected countries who are suspected to be suffering from the disease to Mumbai and New Delhi, the two airports that have quarantine station, has stopped, said authorities.
The quarantine station set up at CIAL at a cost of one crore rupees has facilities to keep the passengers, suspected to be harbouring the virus, under observation. At present, the passengers, suspected to be harbouring the virus reaching here were being redirected to Mumbai and New Delhi. The passengers from the affected countries have been told to carry vaccination certificates, issued by the authorities concerned from the host areas, along with them during the time of their travel. Those who reach here without the mandatory vaccination certificate will be sent to the quarantine station.
According to V J Kurien, managing director, CIAL, it is estimated that yellow fever infects two million people and claim thirty thousand lives every year. As the number of passengers coming from places affected by yellow fever such as South America and Africa is increasing, the airport operation becomes a hazardous job. Since January this year, 33 cases of passengers travelling without vaccination cards for yellow fever were reported and the airport was compelled to send 27 passengers to Delhi for quarantine, he said.
“Considering the urgency, we had approached the Directorate of Health Services, and we then received permission from the DHS to start the station. CIAL will also follow all the international health related circulars and procedures regarding the health and quarantine station, he added. According to Dr Jagdish Prasad, director general of health services, who commissioned the station, setting up of more such stations at Thiruvananthapuram, Chennai and Thiruchirappally airports is also in the pipeline.
According to authorities, yellow fever has been confirmed in 13 South American and 33 African countries. And passengers coming from these affected countries should take vaccination against the fever 10 days in advance of their journey.