The Ministry for Health on Tuesday said that as many as 23 cases of the viral Monkeypox disease have been reported till December 8 this year across the country. The Minister of State for Health, Bharati Pravin Pawar made the statement at the ongoing Winter session of the Parliament.
Pawar, while speaking about the present Covid situation in the country, said that the trajectory of the cases is witnessing a slow and sustained decline since mid-July 2022. As on December 8, 2022, according to the information shared by the states and UTs, a total of 4,244 active cases of Covid are reported in the country.
On being asked if the government has conducted a thorough study on the impacts of the spread of drastic diseases through new forms of viruses and the precautionary measures taken to check their spread, Pawar in her written reply said that the Department of Health Research has a network of 145 virus research and diagnostic laboratories (VRDL) across various geographical locations of India.
She said, "These network laboratories are trained for the screening of viral diseases. They have also contributed to the study of various aspects of Covid to understand clinical, immunological and genomic analysis, vaccine effectiveness, and reinfection studies." She further added that these studies have generated valuable information in the Indian context and have helped in making various policy decisions.
Other than this, many other viruses of public health importance such as Nipah, Dengue, Zika, Chikungunya, Japanese encephalitis, Polio, Influenza and other respiratory viruses have also been studied in VRDLs and ICMR institutes, she said. The ICMR-National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune is equipped with a biosafety level-IV facility.
It is a WHO referral centre for emerging viral infections and is involved in conducting workshops for diagnostic preparedness and awareness for health care sector as well as VRDLs for emerging and re-emerging viral diseases which sensitise people to take precautionary measures to avoid the spread of communicable diseases, Pawar said in her written reply.
The National Influenza centre at ICMR-NIV also monitors the evolution of Influenza and SARS-CoV-2 viruses through pan-India surveillance programmes with the help of 30 VRDLs, located across different geographical locations in India. Also, the Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP) division of the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) gathers data on various communicable diseases, including drastic diseases spread through new forms of viruses. The IDSP surveillance network has detected outbreaks caused by viruses like CCHF (2011), Nipah (2018), Zika (2016), Covid (2020) and monkeypox (2022).