Guyana on high alert to safeguard against Ebola outbreak
…local ports of entry being monitored…as health emergency declared in DRCGuyana’s Chief Medical Officer (ag) Dr Kay ShakoIn light of the new spike of Ebola cases in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the virus can be spread within the Caribbean region due to tourists traversing ports of entry and as such, the World Health Organisation (WHO) is urging that all countries take precautionary measures.Guyana’s Chief Medical Officer (ag), Dr Kay Shako has since said that Guyana is no less safe than its neighbours and, therefore, it is imperative that measures be adopted as advised by the WHO, relevant to safeguard all passengers and the country’s ports of entry.According to Dr Shaho, particularly, emphasis is always placed on monitoring civil aviation activities (international travel) given that this medium can facilitate the movement of communicable diseases via infected passengers and thereby spreading the threat.“The processes related to air travel, specifically, processes associated with outgoing passengers, incoming passengers and activities onboard an aircraft can be managed to control the spread of any communicable diseases. At this time, the risk of contracting Ebola currently has diminished and as such only the basic measures/Standard Operating Procedure shall be implemented,” she said in a statement on Saturday.Dr Shako noted that the WHO has established phases of a pandemic which can be compared to “colour-coded alert levels”. These alert levels are green, yellow, orange and red.She explained that Alert Green requires no security measures to be adopted because there is no risk of the disease being communicated, however, it is important to conduct periodic exercises to test the effectiveness of equipment and the communication channels and to ensure that personnel are adequately trained.“Alert Yellow would require basic security measures, whilst Alert Level Orange would require maximum security. Alert Red would be the stage where WHO would have declared a pandemic and the commencement of a ‘activation of security measures’ would be executed.”“Currently, the WHO has declared an “Alert Yellow” level and several measures were considered and recommended for implementation during this phase. One of which is that all travel agencies and airlines selling seats or tickets for travel must take on the responsibility of sensitising their clients on the risk of Ebola.”Among other recommendations are the establishment of an isolated/sterile facility at the airport which is remote from public access should there be a suspected case or cases of Ebola victims, airport personnel reporting suspicious cases of illness to Port Health Officials (PHO) and that the PHO along with medical support team from the Public Health Ministry will subject suspected cases to further evaluation and determine if and when such cases should be taken to the isolated/sterile area.Recently, there was an international emergency meeting held with all Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO)/WHO Resident Representatives (PWRs) on the Ebola Virus outbreak in the DRC.It was revealed that as of July 16, 2019, there are 2522 confirmed or probable cases, including 1698 deaths. Of the reported cases, 136 are health workers, including 40 who died. There are increased numbers of cases in Butembo and Mabalako. The epicentre has moved from Mabalako to Beni and one case was registered in the city of Goma, bordering Rwanda.”Factors affecting the spread of outbreak include population movement in highly densely populated areas; weak infection and prevention control practices in many health facilities; complex political environment; continued reluctance in the community; and the ongoing unstable security situation, which led to the recent murders of two community health workers in that country.According to PAHO, no country (member state) should close its borders or place any restrictions on travel and trade.“Such measures are usually implemented out of fear and have no basis in science. They push the movement of people and goods to informal border crossings that are not monitored, thus increasing the chances of the spread of disease. Most critically, these restrictions can also compromise local economies and negatively affect response operations from a security and logistics perspective,” PAHO stated.According to the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC) symptoms of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) include fever, severe headache, muscle pain, weakness, fatigue, diarrhoea, vomiting, abdominal (stomach) pain, unexplained haemorrhage (bleeding or bruising). These symptoms, the CCD states may appear anywhere from two to 21 days after contact with the virus, with an average of 8 to 10 days. Many common illnesses can have these same symptoms, including influenza (flu) or malaria.