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Ebola surveillance in place, says Ministry


Ebola surveillance in place, says Ministry

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BARBADOS HAS NOT banned travel to or from West Africa but the Ministry of Health has recommended that residents defer travel to the region unless absolutely essential until the current Ebola outbreak is brought under control.

Meanwhile, surveillance measures are in place at the airport and the seaport.  According to the Ministry, all passports are being reviewed to determine the passengers’ travel history within the six weeks prior to travelling to Barbados.  In times of high alert, Barbados has established procedures for determining illnesses on board air and sea vessels in advance of arrival. 

Once it is established that someone has arrived from a country where the disease is endemic, then specific precautions will be taken, including the administration of a checklist and an assessment by a port health nurse, to determine the level of risk. 

If the environmental health officers and port health nurses identify a person with symptoms, that person will be placed in the quarantine facility for further assessment.  A passenger who is asymptomatic, but has had contact with an Ebola patient or has eaten bush meat, will be placed under active surveillance for a period of 21 days.  However, if they have not been in contact with anyone with Ebola, they will be placed under passive surveillance.

The Ministry advises the public that the likelihood of catching the Ebola virus is considered very low unless one has travelled to an infected area and had direct contact with a person with symptoms, or had contact with infected animals or contaminated objects.

Over the last two months, the Ministry has trained and sensitised health care workers at the air and sea ports, as well as customs and immigration officers and other personnel, equipping them with the knowledge and skills they need to protect the public and themselves.  Front line workers in both the public and private sectors have also been sensitised about Ebola.

The Ministry reiterated that there were currently no cases of Ebola in Barbados. (BGIS)