International travel has been disrupted as restrictions have been implemented and enforced by a number of territories
in light of the prevailing Ebola outbreak that has been ravaging sections of West Africa. And Guyana, like a number of Caribbean and international territories, has also embraced this restriction in order to ward off the potential entry of the virus.
Speaking of deliberate implementation moves yesterday was Cabinet Secretary, Dr Roger Luncheon, as he hosted his weekly post-Cabinet press briefing.
Dr Luncheon told a gathering of media operatives that although the viral epidemic continues to devastate West African territories evident by high cases of fatalities, and has reached other continents, it has however not yet invaded the South American continent, in which Guyana is situated.
In its desperate attempt to prevent the Ebola Virus from entering Guyana, moves have been made by Government to institute restrictions against travellers from West Africa. In a statement publicized on the Facebook Page of Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett, it was noted that Government since early September discussed Guyana’s preparedness to deal with Ebola.
Moreover, she noted that “on September 9, 2014, all Embassies and Consulates abroad have been instructed by me not to issue visas to nationals from West African countries for the time being. The Embassies and Consulates have not issued any visas since then,” she added.
But according to Rodrigues-Birkett, while this does not constitute a travel ban for persons from African countries (Africa has 54 countries), the measure implemented is aimed at dealing with the deadly Ebola virus which is seen as a challenge to both developed and developing countries alike.
And even as Dr Luncheon emphasized the importance of the implemented restrictions yesterday, he pointed out that Guyana’s Ebola preparedness was the subject of a recently held Cabinet meeting on October 11, last. On that occasion, he said, the Ministry of Health and its officials presented to the gathering, a summary of interventions that have already been made and those that were being planned.
Dr Luncheon went on to note that at the meeting it was also highlighted that the Health Ministry has in place public awareness campaigns that appeal to the public and health professionals alike, of the Ebola virus, its associated complications and the approach to its prevention, since no specific cure is available.
And according to Dr Luncheon, the Cabinet encounter was one that strongly supported calls for aggressive travel restrictions by Guyana and the introduction and intensification of surveillance methods at ports of entry. He disclosed yesterday that assurances were given that such measures are already in place.
At the recent meeting too, the Cabinet Secretary said that it was revealed that there are facilities that have been readied and others that are being put in place for purposes of quarantine. He also spoke yesterday of measures being taken to have holding areas created at ports of entry in anticipation of the arrival of persons with the Ebola virus.
According to Dr Luncheon too, the meeting was informed that in addition to readying hospitals for the isolation of suspected and/or confirmed cases, efforts were also being directed to the procurement of protective gear and necessary medical supplies to combat any potential case(s) of the virus.
But since the Health Ministry may not be able to combat Ebola alone, Dr Luncheon noted that “the Cabinet considered a reach out to stakeholders; to the Guyanese civil society in ensuring that the exercise in protecting Guyana from being affected by Ebola; that such a reach out was warranted, and calls were made for more intense collaboration between Government and stakeholders in that regard.”
Since the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa earlier this year almost 4,500 persons have died from its debilitating symptoms that can range from the sudden onset of fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat.
As it progresses, vomiting, diarrhea, rash, impaired kidney and liver function can develop as can internal and external bleeding. And according to the WHO, once infected, persons could start manifesting symptoms between two and 21 days.
But while Government has claimed to have put in place restrictions since last month, from all indications, information to this effect had belatedly trickle down to the office of Minister of Health, Dr Bheri Ramsaran.
Ramsaran was quoted in at least one section of the media as saying that there was no need for a ban to be put in place in light of the Ebola virus. His disclosure has left many concluding that either he (Minister Ramsaran) was excluded from Government’s discussions to have restrictions be implemented or he was attempting to mislead the nation.
However the Minister in an attempt to clarify his earlier position yesterday issued modified comments regarding the Ebola virus in an email titled “clarification on Ebola situation regarding entry of West Africans into Guyana.”
According to Ramsaran in his missive, “the Ministry of Health would like to clarify and reassure that there are stringent restrictions on entry to Guyana by persons who may pose a threat to the health of the nation by the importation of the Ebola virus.”
Particular focus, according to him, is being directed to citizens of, and visitors to West African countries, where the disease is currently raging and represents a Public Health Threat of international concern.
He informed too that the Ministry of Health, from the first proclamation by World Health Organisation Director, Dr Margaret Chan, initiated its national Ebola virus response. According to him too, “the Ministry has maintained vigilance since and will continue, and expand as needed, the multi-agency work already started to protect Guyana from this disease.”
T&T orders Ebola travel ban
…passengers coming from West African countries stricken with Ebola will be denied entry
Trinidad Express – Trinidad and Tobago yesterday took the decision to ban entry to travelers coming from the African countries which have been stricken with Ebola.
Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan announced during a post Cabinet news conference at the Office of the Prime Minister in St Clair, that anyone coming from Sierra Leone, Guinea, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia, and Nigeria, will be denied entry to the country. In addition, people who visited the named African countries within the past six weeks, will also not be allowed entry. And citizens who visited these countries will be quarantined for 21 days upon arrival in Trinidad and Tobago.
Government’s decision comes after similar orders from other Caribbean countries, and as the United States mulls whether to institute a travel ban of passengers arrival from West African countries, with the White House saying it was against the move, but top health officials saying it should not be discounted.
Meanwhile, Tobago has begun its preparation in the event that the deadly Ebola disease makes it to these shores. A team starts preparation in Tobago for a possible outbreak of Ebola affecting countries in West Africa. The two-hour meeting which was chaired by THA Chief Secretary Orville London at the Calder Hall Administrative Complex, Scarborough and attended by senior representatives of the Customs and Excise Division, Immigration, Police, Port Authority, Airports Authority, Health Division and the Tobago Emergency Management Authority.
Jamaica imposes ban on travelers from Ebola-stricken countries
Jamaica Gleaner – The Jamaican Government has issued an immediate travel ban against certain persons travelling directly or indirectly from or through the Ebola-affected West African countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
A statement from the National Security Ministry says the ban extends to persons ordinarily resident in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone as well as persons who have travelled to or transited through the countries in the past 28 days.
The travel ban also extends to Commonwealth citizens, not citizens of Jamaica, who have travelled to or transited through Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone within 28 days of their arrival to Jamaica.
The Ministry says CARICOM nationals benefitting from the free movement regime are also subject to this landing restriction which is a temporary measure necessary for the protection of human and animal health.
Jamaican citizens and residents, who have travelled to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone within 28 days of their arrival to Jamaica, will be quarantined in the interest of public health and national security upon their arrival in Jamaica.
This applies equally to any person having a right of entry pursuant to Jamaica’s obligations under international organization head quarters agreements.
Jamaican citizens who have travelled to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone within 28 days of their arrival to Jamaica, will be quarantined in the interest of public health and national security upon their arrival in Jamaica. The general public is advised that the Government of Jamaica reserves the right to screen all Jamaican nationals.
According to the World Health Organization the present Ebola outbreak is the largest and most complex since the discovery of the disease in 1976; hence this decision has been made against the background of the outbreak in West Africa since March 2014, and its continued increasing threat to world health and security of Jamaican citizens.
St Kitts Nevis joins other Caribbean countries banning visitors from Ebola hit West Africa
BASSETERRE, St. Kitts – CMC – St. Kitts Nevis has joined the list of countries in the region to place a ban on nationals from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea as a precaution against the deadly Ebola virus.
The Office of the Prime Minister in a statement late Wednesday said the prohibition will also be applied to travelers who have visited the three countries in the preceding 21 days.
“The Ministry of Health will closely monitor the situation in West Africa and other countries and will continue to work closely with regional and international partners to prepare for any potential threat,”” t he statement read.
The Cabinet, has also requested the activation of the National Disaster Mitigation Council to coordinate preparedness and response with the health officials and to provide Cabinet updates.
The same restrictions have been implemented in St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Grenada is contemplating a similar ban.
The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that nearly 4,500 people have died from the Ebola virus during the current outbreak, the majority of those in West Africa.
There have been two diagnosed cases of Ebola that were contracted in the United States and one in Spain; all three patients are health care workers.
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