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Health prepared for Ebola threat

Health prepared for Ebola threat

Thursday 31 July 2014

Health prepared for Ebola threat

Thursday 31 July 2014


Health workers have a plan to deal with the Ebola virus if it reaches Jersey but they say the risk is very low.

The British government has taken the unusual step of warning doctors and border officials to be vigilant after fears were raised about the potential international spread of the deadly disease from west Africa.

In some places Ebola kills 90% of all of those infected - symptoms include a fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headache and a sore throat, followed by vomiting, diarrhoea, rash, impaired kidney and liver function, and internal and external bleeding.

It can take up to 21 days for symptoms to occur and up to 90% of cases of Ebola are fatal.

Dr Linda Diggle, the acting head of public health, said: “We are aware that the Ebola virus has been considered by [the UK Government’s emergency committee] Cobra and by Public Health England, which has advised that the risk to tourists, visitors or expatriate residents in affected areas of West Africa is very low if elementary precautions are followed.

“We also note the UK Health Protection Agency’s advice that no imported case of Ebola has ever occurred in the UK.

“While in no way complacent, we believe Jersey’s level of risk is even lower than that of the UK, given that there are no direct flights between the Island and the affected area. Direct flights from the affected area go to major EU or UK airports which have good surveillance.

“Nevertheless, Jersey has a robust emergency plan in place; all agencies involved are aware of the situation and monitoring developments closely. We will take whatever steps are prudent should the situation develop further. 

"Details of the recommended precautions for travellers and further information can be found on the website of the National Travel Health Network and Centre – www.nathnac.org.”

The recent concern arose after a man who had boarded an international flight died of the disease in Lagos, Nigeria.

Patrick Sawyer, 40, an America citizen, travelled from Liberia to Lagos via Ghana and Togo, while suffering from the symptoms of Ebola.  The case is thought to be the first in Nigeria.

David Cameron and the UK government’s Cobra committee met yesterday after health officials admitted Ebola could reach the UK.

According to the World Health Organisation nearly 700 people have died from Ebola in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, and the outbreak is the biggest in history, with over 1,200 cases diagnosed so far.

On Monday a man who had arrived Britain from Benin, Nigeria, via Paris, was taken to hospital in Birmingham after complaining of being ‘feverish’. Tests have come back negative.

Last week the British Government announced a new £2 million package of assistance to help prevent the spread of Ebola in West Africa. The money will be available immediately for groups such as Médecins Sans Frontières and The International Federation of the Red Cross.

Justine Greening said: “This Ebola outbreak poses a serious public health risk to West Africa. Britain is working with the countries affected and the international community to ensure that the outbreak is contained and help reaches those in need.”

Ebola was first diagnosed in a village on the Ebola River in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is transmitted from animals such as fruit bats to humans and then to other humans through direct contact, in particular through contact with with bodily fluids.

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