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‘Remain indoors, wear masks and get flu shots’: Doctors' advice for families going to India

Representational image of passengers standing in a queue at the airport. Source: Photo by Preetinder Singh Grewal/SBS Punjabi

As Delhi chokes and north India reportedly reels under dengue, malaria and chikungunya outbreak, doctors in Australia are advising families with young children to preferably ‘delay travel plans’ or take ‘appropriate precautions’ to minimize health risks.

In a conversation with SBS Punjabi, at least three general practitioners advised that Australian families heading to India, particularly with young children should “preferably delay their travel plans” until the air quality in and around New Delhi improves and chances of air-borne infections and viral fever occurrences reduce.

Click on the player to listen to the full interview with Melbourne based, Dr Gurdip Aurora.

‘Book an appointment with your GP’

Those who cannot postpone their plans, Sydney-based GP, Kamal Parkash Singh said everyone must on priority book an appointment with their regular GP to ensure that their specific needs are addressed before they board the plane.

“Please consult your GP at the earliest to ensure that your specific medical needs are met. Pack a medicine bag that has all your regular medicines, along with an oral rehydration solution which can come in handy for young families with kids in case of diarrhoea or dehydration.”   

Doctor consultation
Getting help: Talk to your GP
Getty images 

‘Be on time-vaccination matters’

Dr Singh said for those travelling with young children must ensure that the kids are up to date with their vaccinations.

“Make sure that your child’s immunisation schedule is up to date. If not, talk to your GP to find out if your child needs any catchup-vaccinations or any specific ones like flu and travel vaccines.

“If your child has any lung problem or asthma, please take it up with your GP particularly if your flight is directly landing in Delhi.”

He added that we generally recommend adults travelling to India to receive vaccinations for flu, typhoid and hepatitis A.

“India is a much-frequented destination and therefore we tend to forget that living in Australia, we might not be immunised for infectious diseases that exist in India which might not exist in this part of the world. So please ensure that you don’t overlook this.”   

A group of Indian women wear pollution mask arrives to a protest against air pollution in New Delhi, India, Sunday, Nov. 6, 2016. Even for a city considered one of the worlds dirtiest, the Indian capital hit a new low this week. Air so dirty you can taste
A group of Indian women wear pollution mask arrives to a protest against air pollution in New Delhi, India.
(AP Photo/Manish Swarup) 

‘Buy N95 face masks’

Dr Singh recommended that those landing in Delhi must purchase N95 face masks to reduce the ill effects of toxic air.

He added that people with beards must ensure that their masks are properly secured to their faces to prevent the entry of any harmful particles.

“People with a dense beard can apply Vaseline at the edges of the mask to ensure it sticks to your face properly.” 

‘Consume boiled water, food that is properly washed, freshly prepared and is thoroughly cooked’

Medical practitioners advise that while travelling, one must make informed choices about food and drink.

“Traveller’s diarrhoea and food-related illnesses are common while travelling. So to keep yourself safe, drink bottled water from a reliable source, eat food that is freshly prepared and is thoroughly cooked at high temperatures. Be cautious of food that is cooked and then kept warm or at room temperature.

He added that all those fond of street food must prefer to go to places that are reliable and maintain high hygiene standards.

“For instance, if you want to eat a hot snack make sure it is freshly prepared and is straight off the grill. Fresh and steaming hot food is more likely to be safe.”   

Drinks, foods and snacks from the fast food chains
Make informed choices about what you eat and drink while travelling.
Getty Images 

‘Pregnant women must avoid travelling to India in the next two months’

Dr Singh said it is not advisable for pregnant women to visit India at least in the next few months. But for those who cannot delay their plans, must ensure that they consult their doctors before travelling to ensure they’re fully immunised.

Melbourne based Dr Gurdip Aurora said, "While there are a lot of preventive measures available for malaria, there are however no vaccines or medicines available to prevent dengue fever.

“My advice is, keep yourself fully covered, use mosquito repellant sprays every two hours, minimise outdoor activities and maintain personal hygiene to keep yourself safe.”

Disclaimer: Medical advice supplied in the article is generic. Please consult your GP for specific information.

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