Qatar’s Supreme Council of Health (SCH) yesterday issued a warning against travel to the four Ebola-affected countries after the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the outbreak of the often-fatal disease in West Africa as a global health crisis.
The health council has also enhanced its alertness to prevent the disease’s spread to Qatar.
“The Department of Public Health at the SCH has been following the incoming reports of Ebola outbreak that has been spreading across several countries in West Africa since March 21. Of the 1,603 cases reported until August 4, 887 have died,” a statement said.
The health council has started a series of “internal meetings and consultations” aimed at assessing the risk potentials and measures needed to prevent any suspected case arriving in the country.
“It was agreed to wait for the outcome of the meeting of the Emergency Committee convened by the (WHO) director-general under the International Health Regulations (IHR) regarding the 2014 Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak in West Africa,” the statement said.
“The WHO director-general has accepted the Emergency Committee’s assessment and on August 8 declared the Ebola outbreak in West Africa a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). (It) has further endorsed the committee’s advice and issued them as Temporary Recommendations under IHR to reduce the international spread of Ebola.
“It has recommended that the states of Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Nigeria where the virus is persistently spreading should not allow persons with an illness consistent with EVD or contacts of infected persons to travel outside its territories, while monitoring the suspected cases for at least 21 days. However, it did not recommend a general ban on travel and trade with these affected countries.”
As a matter of response, the public health and communicable diseases control departments have raised national alertness to confront the epidemic through the activation of the National Emergency Plan.
The SCH has recommended to restrict travel to countries affected by the outbreak (Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria) until further notice.
It is considering medical screening on people arriving from these countries, besides “intensifying surveillance and tracing of contacts of suspected cases via dissemination of the standard case definition among healthcare workers at Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC), Primary Health Care Corporation (PHCC), private sector institutions, Qatar Airways, and health authorities at the Hamad International Airport (HIA)”.
WHO support will be sought to services related to diagnosis, referral of cases and confirmatory tests at accredited international laboratories. Other measures include raising public awareness on prevention measures.
A meeting of the managers of preventive medicine and IHR 2095 Focal Points for the GCC will be held in Riyadh on August 13.
“To discuss potential scenarios and appropriate preventive and control measures”, a joint meeting of the SCH, HMC, PHCC, Qatar Airways, QP, the Interior Ministry and the army is to be held in Doha today.
The Ebola Virus Disease is a severe, often fatal illness in humans with case fatality rate of 60 % to 90%.
Ebola first appeared in 1976 in two simultaneous outbreaks in Nzara, Sudan, and in Yambuku, Democratic Republic of Congo. The latter was in a village situated near the Ebola River, from which the disease takes its name.
EVD symptoms include the sudden onset of fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat. This is followed by vomiting, diarrhoea, rash, impaired kidney and liver function, and in some cases, both internal and external bleeding. No licensed vaccine nor specific treatment are yet available.
The SCH has reiterated that there was no suspected or confirmed Ebola cases in Qatar as of yesterday.
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