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Kotoka Airport steps up Ebola preventive measures

Port Health authorities have held a simulation exercise at the Kotoka International Airport (KIA) airport as part of a training regime to equip personnel of the unit to contain any threat of an Ebola outbreak in the country.

Medical doctors from the Ghana Health Service, personnel from the Ghana Airports Company Limited and International Health Regulators also took part in the one-hour exercise.

The exercise, which began at about 3pm local time, involved the screening of all passengers arriving at the KIA from the four Ebola-affected countries in the West Africa sub-region: namely Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea Conakry and Nigeria.

Passengers whose temperature measured by a laser thermometer exceeded 37.5 degrees Celsius, were asked standard questions by Port Health officials. Details of their place of embarkation, flight details, names and telephone numbers are taken for a 21-day monitoring.

Visibly- ill passengers were quarantined for further screening by the medical team wearing a full protective gear stationed at the arrival hall of the airport. The doctors probed for symptoms passengers had been experiencing.

There is currently a stand-by ambulance to convey visibly-ill passengers arriving at the KIA to a newly-built isolation centre adjacent to the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority School under construction at the KIA enclave.

The one-bed facility, according to authorities, is expandable to accommodate about 16 suspected cases of Ebola at a time for sample taking before suspected Ebola virus carriers are transferred to one of the designated hospitals equipped to handle such cases.

Michael Adjabeng, International Health Regulations (IHR) Focal Person, said: “It’s part of the MOH and the airport authority’s preparedness in responding to any Ebola case that should occur in the country. The airport is a very important entry point. Very soon, very soon, similar exercises will be carried out at other points of entry. The playing out of this case shows there are areas we should work on”.

D. Nehkonti Adams, a member of the NTCC Case Management Sub-committee, who observed the event said: “I think during the practice-session at the arrival hall, transporting the patients to the ambulance and to the isolation facility was a successful exercise. However, there is room for improvement.”

She noted that Port Health official should ensure proper briefing of passengers before isolating them for further screening. She called for the acquisition of more ambulances to convey passengers from the arrival hall to the isolation centre.

The Ebola virus disease (EVD) -- formerly known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever -- is a severe, often fatal illness in humans. It has a case fatality rate of up to 90%.

The outbreak of the virus in West Africa was transmitted to people from wild animals, and spreads in the human population through human-to-human transmission.

Fruit-bats of the Pteropodidae family are considered to be the natural host of the Ebola virus. Severely ill patients require intensive supportive care, and no licenced specific treatment or vaccine is available for use in people or animals.

EVD outbreaks occur primarily in remote villages in Central and West Africa, near tropical rainforests.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimate that 1,013 people have died as a result of the outbreak of Ebola virus in the West Africa sub-region.

Severely ill patients require intensive supportive care. Patients are frequently dehydrated and require oral rehydration with solutions containing electrolytes or intravenous fluids.

The Ghana Health Service has requested the WHO to supply it with some of the unapproved medicines being used in a desperate attempt to curb spread of the virus in West Africa.

Source: B&FT
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