Isolation of an individual already treated for Ebola: has India gone too far?

Mahesh Devnani, Yan Guo

Abstract

A 26-year-old Indian male travelling from Liberia to India after being treated for Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) was isolated at Delhi airport, even though he was symptom-free, because his semen was positive for Ebola virus. His blood, saliva and urine samples had tested negative for Ebola. There is no conclusive evidence of sexual transmission of EVD and the World Health Organisation does not recommend the isolation of convalescent patients whose blood is negative for Ebola virus. The decision of the Indian health authorities to isolate this individual is not only unscientific and excessively precautionary, but also raises various ethical and legal issues related to the potential violation of individual rights. The decision to impose individual restrictions during public health emergencies should be a transparent one that is guided by science, and should follow consultations among the various stakeholders. Further, such restrictions should be imposed only when alternative approaches are not sufficient or effective.

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