– solicits support from airline workers to help efforts
As part of its efforts to remain vigilant ahead of any possible attack of the Ebola virus in these parts, the Ministry of Health has been paying keen attention to passengers travelling to Guyana from West Africa.
And based on the close monitoring of air traffic movements, it has been observed that more than 70 individuals, hailing from sections of the Western-most sub-region of the African continent, are currently in Guyana.
These individuals are all said to be students, and at least seven of them arrived in Guyana via the Ogle International Airport during the past week.
This was among the disclosures airline workers heard yesterday as they participated in a sensitization workshop venued in the Wings Aviation Hanger at the Ogle International Airport yesterday.
The sensitisation forum, which is in fact the second of its kind to be held at the East Coast Demerara airport, saw the attendance of representatives from the various airline services operating there. The workshop was spearheaded by the Ministry of Health in collaboration with its technical partner the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO).
Speaking to the participants at the workshop Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Shamdeo Persaud, informed that thus far, there has been no evidence to suggest that any of the travelers were infected with the fatal virus which has been wreaking havoc in sections of West Africa.
In fact Dr. Persaud informed that there is no indication that the virus has been detected in any part of South America or the Caribbean. Since the recent outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa more than a month ago, hundreds of individuals said to be infected have since died.
Moreover, Dr. Persaud noted that Guyana is currently on high alert which entails working in close collaboration with its technical partners, staffers of ports of entry and health workers even as moves are made to raise public awareness.
But according to Dr. Persaud, airport workers are among the key people who will have to help with any potential detection of the virus.
He pointed out that the plan that is being embraced by the health sector is to ensure that persons who would have travelled from West Africa will be carefully documented and must be accessible by officials of the Health Ministry so as to ensure that they do not eventually develop symptoms of the virus. This is in light of the fact that the incubation period for the virus could be between two and 21 days, which therefore means, that it is not expected to manifest as soon as an individual becomes infected.
Speaking at the forum yesterday Dr. Persaud pointed out that while the Ebola virus may be a contagious disease it is however one that requires direct contact.
It can be transmitted to humans through the bites of animals that are reservoirs for the virus such as monkeys and bats. It can however, be transmitted by exposure to the excretion, blood or other bodily fluids of these animal reservoirs, which can also include pigs.
Human beings transmit the virus to each other mainly through contact through broken skin or mucous membranes (eyes, nose, mouth, etc.) with blood, secretions, organs or other body fluids of infected persons. In fact, persons should be careful how they handle even the bodies of infected persons even after death, as it is believed that the virus can remain active for about 70 days.
The virus can also be spread through indirect contact with environments contaminated with such body fluids.
Based on a Health Ministry alert issued to the participants yesterday; any individual who has travelled from West Africa in the past six weeks and has experienced symptoms including: fever, headache, diarrhoea, weakness, sore throat, skin rash, muscle pains, vomiting or bleeding should visit the nearest health facility. Also, anyone who has been in contact with persons with such symptoms should also seek medical attention, as according to Dr. Persaud “early detection can stop Ebola from spreading across the world.”
Dr. Persaud disclosed yesterday too, that while there is no cure for the virus, symptomatic treatment is usually offered even as he pointed out that persons can take precautions by washing hands regularly with soap and water, avoiding contact with body fluids and other things that could place them at risk for contracting the virus.
Dr. Persaud was ably supported at yesterday’s workshop by Chief Veterinary Public Health Officer, Dr. Colin James and PAHO epidemiologist, Dr. Mariano Bonet.
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