Bahrain steps up Ebola alert after Saudi death
Manama, August 7, 2014
All visitors to Bahrain are being screened as they enter the country in a bid to prevent the spread of the deadly Ebola virus.
The news follows the death of a Saudi man in Jeddah yesterday, who authorities suspect contracted Ebola during a recent business trip to Sierra Leone, said a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
The Saudi Arabia Health Ministry said in a statement that the man, aged in his 40s, died in the intensive care unit of a specialist hospital at 8.45am after being admitted in a critical condition the day before with ‘symptoms of viral haemorrhagic fever.’
Bahrain’s Health Ministry has now stepped up preventive measures after drawing up a contingency plan to stop the virus entering the country, public health director Dr Mariam Al Hajeri said.
A high-level meeting between Deputy Prime Minister Shaikh Ali bin Khalifa Al Khalifa and Health Ministry officials on Tuesday laid the foundation for the plan.
“Since Sunday we have had a visa restriction on all passengers to and from the countries hit by the Ebola outbreak Ð Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia and Nigeria,” said Dr Al Hajeri.
“Checks are being enforced at entry and exit points, including the airport and the causeway, while awareness programmes and increased health education for pilgrims to Saudi Arabia have been introduced.”
The GDN reported on Tuesday that healthcare workers in both government and private facilities had been notified of the correct procedures to follow if a patient was suspected of suffering from Ebola.
“An ‘Ebola investigation form’ has been issued at the ports of entry to be given to all passengers and anyone who has travelled to the affected countries will be moved to clinics at the ports for further investigation,” said Dr Al Hajeri.
“We are also in contact with the Nationality, Passports and Residence Affairs to get details of all the nationals of the virus-hit countries currently in Bahrain, who have travelled to or from these countries during the last month.
“They will be checked for the virus and if found to be of any concern, will be isolated.
“According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the virus has an incubation period of two to 21 days, hence the stipulation of a month,” she added.
Dr Al Hajeri confirmed that up until now, no cases of Ebola virus had been reported in Bahrain.
Meanwhile, a ban on all meat products from virus-hit countries has also been imposed.
“The agriculture department at the Municipalities and Urban Planning Affairs Ministry has been entrusted with the responsibility to ensure this ban,” said Dr Al Hajeri.
“Circulars have been issued to traders in this regard and the ministry has also been asked to be alert for birds and animals being brought into Bahrain from the affected countries.”
She stressed that the ministry was in close contact with all other GCC members, WHO officials and the GCC Supreme Council of Health to co-ordinate efforts in combating the virus.
The number of people to have died since March this year, in what has been described as the worst outbreak in history, has risen to at least 932, according to the WHO. - TradeArabia News Service