Ebola machine sits idle in health ministry

Machinery acquired for thermal screening of travellers who may have been afflicted with the Ebola virus disease (EVD) is apparently in storage at the Ministry of Health, as the minister says to deploy it may raise unnecessary alarm.

Speaking to OBSERVER media, Minister of Health Molwyn Joseph said that he was satisfied that the Ebola pandemic was sufficiently controlled, and that negated the need for the machinery.

“The machine is still here at the ministry. Fortunately we do not have need for it because the Ebola has been brought under control. But it’s here ready to be used if we have the need for it. It would be deployed at the airport,” Joseph said.

According to the minister, “If we were to have the machine there we will then have to explain to our visitors why we have it and we would probably create an unnecessary alarm … It’s not worth it.”

Joseph said that the costly equipment would remain on “standby” in the event of a renewed Ebola threat. “We’re locked into a system of notification of virus and disease that are considered to be pandemic,” he assured.

“With that in place, we can immediately initiate any response including putting certain equipment in place to protect Antigua & Barbuda and our visitors,” he added.

The disease also known as Ebola heamorrhagic fever (EHF) is a viral heamorrhagic fever of humans and other primates caused by ebolaviruses. The disease has a high risk of death, between 25 and 90 per cent of those infected.

An outbreak of Ebola virus disease that begun in West Africa in December 2013, mainly affecting Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone has now ended. The outbreak reached its height in 2014 but was subsequently brought under control. In December 2014, the death toll from the virus was approximately 10,000 according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
(The Daily Observer)

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