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T&T readies for Ebola virus

Published: 
Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Body temperature scanners will be placed at ports of entry to T&T in a bid to detect and isolate anyone arriving in the country carrying the Ebola virus.

The Health Ministry’s decision to introduce the scanners is a step being taken in some parts of West Africa where the outbreak started and is quickly spreading. 

The outbreak, which started in March, is the most lethal recorded.

The Ministry of Health has advised against non-essential travel to Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia. Travellers arriving from countries where Ebola was endemic are also under heightened surveillance.

The ministry said its public health emergency plans were being reviewed and updated in light of the public health concerns.

If a suspected case of Ebola were to be reported in T&T, the ministry would carry out its contingency plan ensuring that patients are cared for in a way that reduces the potential for the disease to spread.

Health care workers are to use special personal protective equipment and patients are to be sent to designated facilities for isolation, according to the ministry’s plan.

President of the Thoracic Society of T&T Professor Terrence Seemungal commended the ministry’s effort to ensure international best practices were followed at ports of entry.

In a statement yesterday, he referred to a new study which concluded that the Ebola virus was not “spread either by coughing or sneezing.” 

Th study found that “Ebola is not an airborne virus but rather is transmitted via contact with bodily fluids, such as blood, saliva, stool, urine, semen, sweat and soiled linen used by a patient.”

Seemungal explained that Ebola viruses consisted of several different virus strains, some of which caused human disease. 

“Those endemic to Africa cause fever with severe bleeding with frequent fatal outcome in humans, great apes and several species of primates.”

Fruit bats, he added, were considered to be the natural reservoir for Ebola virus in Africa.