India monitors inbound tourists for SARS-like virus

Health officials in India are monitoring inbound travelers for signs of a new respiratory virus from the same family as the severe acute respiratory syndrome virus.

The virus may be a potential global threat and Indian officials are taking precautions through the Integrated Disease Surveillance Project, the Times of India reports..

Ghulam Nabi Azad, the country's union health minister, said that the government prepared a plan to strengthen its surveillance at 23 new ports of entry into the country.

By 2014, India plans to have health units in all its ports, land borders and airports. With 25 airports, 12 ports and seven international land borders, the country currently only has health units at 21 of the points of entry.

The World Health Organization encouraged all members states to continue surveillance for the new coronavirus and is currently reviewing case definition and other guidance.

"Until more information is available, it is prudent to consider that the virus is likely more widely distributed than just the two countries which have identified cases," the WHO said, according to the Times of India. "Member states should consider testing of patients with unexplained pneumonias for the new coronavirus even in the absence of travel or other associations with the two affected countries. In addition, any clusters of (severe acute respiratory infections) or SARI in health care workers should be thoroughly investigated regardless of where in the world they occur."

The government's plan to increase surveillance includes new health surveillance units in airports in Guwahati, Srinagar, Nagpur, Pune, Jaipur, Goa and Amritsar. Land borders with increased surveillance include Akhaura, Petrapole, Dawki, Moreh, Jogbani and Raxaul, the Times of India reports.