Britain warns citizens against proverbial Delhi belly this Diwali

LONDON: Britain has warned its citizens against the proverbial Delhi belly this Diwali. In an advice issued for travellers going to India to stay healthy during Diwali, Public Health England (PHE) and the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) said, “we would like to remind travellers from the UK visiting friends and relatives in the Indian subcontinent during the festivities of Diwali (23 October), to practice good food and water hygiene and to avoid insect bites.” PHE said visiting friends and relatives is still the most common reason for travel after taking holidays.

People who travel for this reason often travel for longer periods of time and usually stay within the family or friend’s home. They effectively become members of the local population while they are there and are consequently exposed to similar infectious risks. Dr Jane Jones, an expert in travel health at PHE, said, “We strongly advise all travellers to seek health advice before you travel, even if the country you are visiting is familiar to you or your family.

People who visit friends and family abroad are disproportionately affected by some preventable infectious disease such as enteric fever, hepatitis A and travellers’ diarrhoea.” The directions given to British cirizens are, “You should make sure you get the appropriate immunisations for your visit and you can reduce the risk of diarrhoea by following some basic food and water hygiene advice. Maintain good hand hygiene by washing hands after visiting the toilet, and always before preparing or eating food.

Use alcohol gel when handwashing facilities are not available avoid potentially risky foods such as salads, peeled fruit and vegetables, cold meats, ice cream, eggs and shellfish, avoid drinking tap water, including in ice.” Dr Dipti Patel, joint director at NaTHNaC, said, “Diseases spread by mosquitoes such as dengue fever and malaria may also be a risk. To reduce the risk of being bitten use recommended insect repellents and wear appropriate clothing – such as long sleeve tops and trousers to reduce the amount of skin being exposed. You should also check whether you need anti malarial tablets with your general practice, travel health clinic, or pharmacy.”

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