The Assam government has cancelled the leaves of all health department employees till the end of September to deal with an outbreak of encephalitis in the state. The state government also said it will file police complaints against doctors and health officials if they are found to be neglecting their duties.
"We have cancelled leave of all government doctors and employees of all government health facilities. We are on alert. We will take punitive action doctors not attending their duties," Assam Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma told NDTV.
Since April, Japanese Encephalitis (JE) has killed 50 people, mostly adults, in Assam. About 190 people have tested positive for the disease this year.
Mr Sarma said the government is taking all measures to prevent a situation similar to Bihar, where encephalitis has killed 140 children. "We have decided to intensify our blood sample collection drive. So far we have collected 12.5 lakh blood samples. Our focus is to treat patients in the initial stage of the disease. We will also start an intensive adult vaccination drive from November," he said.
Apart from that, the government will give Rs 1 lakh for the treatment of each patient.
The centre had sent a high-level team to Assam to pre-empt any chance of an encephalitis outbreak. Health Minister Harsh Vardhan sent the central team to review the Japanese Encephalitis (JE) situation and also directed the ministry to assist the Assam government in its prevention efforts.
Nine districts in Assam are most vulnerable to Japanese encephalitis. Since 2013, over 700 people have died of the disease.