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Jamaica steps up its Ebola preparation plans

Featured Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health Dr. Kevin Harvey. Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health Dr. Kevin Harvey.
With the diagnosis of the first case of the deadly Ebola virus in the United States by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, Jamaican health authorities have stepped up its Ebola Watch mechanism established nearly two years ago. Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health Dr. Kevin Harvey in responding to media question as to the level of his ministry’s concern over the discovery of the Ebola case in Texas, he said “we are always concerned” but noted that Jamaican authorities are doing what it can to prevent persons travelling from Liberia and other countries where there is an outbreak, from entering the island. According to one health Official, the Jamaican health authorities have been preparing for this eventuality since last year and have been having regular meetings regarding Ebola and Chikungunya. The health official said already an isolation facility has been established in case its needed, and the Health Ministry is in constant dialog with the World Health Organization and the Pan American Health Organization regarding the establishment of best practices to meet the challenge. It is expected that the Ministry’s communications Directorate will shortly be rolling out its public information campaign on Ebola to tell the Jamaican public what it is, how it can be identified, what are the symptoms and whether there is any cure for the deadly disease. The Ministry Official pointed out that with the discovery of an Ebola case so close to our doorstep, the Ministry will be increasing it’s monitoring at our air and seaports as well as morgues and mortuaries. In the meantime the CDC says the patient who was diagnosed is a man who became infected in Liberia and travelled to Texas, where he was hospitalised with symptoms that were confirmed to be caused by Ebola, a CDC spokesman said. Officials at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital say the unidentified patient is being kept in isolation. The man is thought to have contracted the virus in Liberia before travelling to the US nearly two weeks ago. According to CDC Director Thomas Frieden, the unnamed patient left Liberia on 19 September and arrived in the US the next day to visit relatives, without displaying any symptoms of the virus. Symptoms of the virus became apparent on 24 September, and on 28 September he was admitted to a Texas hospital and put in isolation. The disease, which is not contagious until symptoms appear, is spread via close contact with bodily fluids. A hospital official told reporters on Tuesday the facility already had procedures in place to deal with any such potential cases. Preliminary information indicates that the unnamed patient, who was described as critically ill, was not involved in treating Ebola-infected patients while in Liberia. Health officials are working to identify all people who came into contact with the unnamed patient while he was infectious. Those people will then be monitored for 21 days to see if an Ebola-related fever develops. According to Mr Frieden, it is possible a family member who came in direct contact with the patient may develop Ebola in the coming weeks. But "the bottom line here is I have no doubt that we will control this importation, this case of Ebola, so it does not spread widely in this country," he added. "We will stop it here." The World Health Organization (WHO) says more than 3,000 people have died of the virus so far, mostly in Liberia. Earlier on Tuesday, the head of a new UN body set up to fight the disease urged more action within the next 60 days. Anthony Banbury told reporters in Ghana that 70% of infected people needed to be receiving treatment and 70% of burials should be done safely within two months. It is the world's most deadly outbreak of the virus. More than 3,000 people have already died of Ebola in West Africa and a small number of US aid workers have recovered after being flown to the US. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says the Ebola virus seems to have been contained in Nigeria and Senegal, with no new cases reported there for almost a month.
Last modified onWednesday, 01 October 2014 17:02

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