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Fuad: T&T ready to tackle Ebola virus

Published: 
Monday, August 4, 2014

Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan is assuring the nation that T&T’s healthcare system is fully prepared to deal with an outbreak of the Ebola virus. In a telephone interview yesterday, Khan said the ministry has been closely monitoring the virus following several outbreaks in Africa. “The virus was contained and then it resurfaced. We have been monitoring this to see how best we could improve our own systems,” Khan said. He said locals travelling to and from Africa must have themselves checked by a doctor if falling ill.

But, he said, the virus has a 21-day incubation period and therefore symptoms would not be immediately detected. “We are ready. We have things in place and we are fully prepared to deal with any outbreak of an Ebola virus. We also have surveillance methods in place regarding international travel. The Ebola virus has a 90 per cent fatality rate and that is very worrying,” Khan added.

The Health Minister said he was considering introducing thermal cameras at the ports of entry to prevent the spread of the chikungunya virus, commonly called ChikV. A thermal camera, also known as FLIR (forward-looking infrared), is a device that creates an image using infrared radiation, which is heat. The measurement of the infrared light illustrates and makes visible the heat radiation from the object.

About Ebola
• The Ebola virus belongs to a family of viruses that causes haemorrhagic fever and has a mortality rate of up to 90 per cent
•The virus is transmitted from an infected person via his/her body fluids and secretions, including saliva, blood, semen, urine, stool, and sweat. A common way it is spread is through objects, such as needles and soiled linen, that come in contact with infected body fluids.
• Early symptoms may be flu-like and include: headaches, fever, joint pain, sore throat and fatigue. As the disease progresses more serious symptoms develop such as diarrhoea, vomiting, a rash, and external and internal bleeding.
• The incubation period—the time interval from infection to the onset of symptoms—is two to 21 days, during which there is no risk of transmission.
• Countries affected by the current Ebola outbreak in West Africa include: Guinea (336 cases), Liberia (100), and Sierra Leone (473). Resulting in over 600 deaths, the current outbreak is the worst ever.
• No vaccine is available for the Ebola virus.
• No cure is available and treatment is limited to supportive therapy, which includes oral rehydration and intravenous fluids.
(World Health Organisation, Centres for Disease Control and Prevention)