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Government taking requisite precautions against Ebola

Government taking requisite precautions against Ebola

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As the Ebola virus continues its spread overseas, the Government of St Vincent and the Grenadines is putting all requisite precautions in place to protect its citizens.

This was stated by Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves{{more}} on Tuesday, during a press conference held in Cabinet Room.

Gonsalves noted that while the risk factor for the Caribbean as it relates to Ebola is very low, preparations should be made in the event that a case develops here.

“We want to take all the requisite precautions and more than that, we want to have a lot of training and to have the kind of support systems regionally,” he said.

“Though we accept that the risk in our part of the world is very low, we are a responsible government; we have to try to do everything we can to protect our citizens.”

In September, it was announced that St Vincent and the Grenadines had imposed travel restrictions for persons coming to this country from four countries in West Africa.

The Prime Minister explained the reason for this and also indicated other actions that have been taken to prevent the entry of the Ebola virus into the multi-island state.

“As you are aware, we have taken some decisions here in St Vincent and the Grenadines which surprised even some of the international health agencies. For instance, I don’t know if you know of any country in the Caribbean which has actually placed a ban on persons coming from the three countries that are ravaged with Ebola. That is to say Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. In relation to Nigeria, as you are aware, they had a few cases in Nigeria, but Nigeria has been declared Ebola free. We didn’t consider that we had the infrastructure necessary to deal with an onrush of people if they were to come from any of those African countries which we have named specifically,” Gonsalves said.

“We have a permanent staff at the airport and doing checks at the other places…we have a station out there, health station and we make sure that there is appropriate questionnaire and testing.”

According to Gonsalves, LIAT is also on board with this country’s efforts and must ensure that persons travelling from particular countries are in possession of PCR results from tests that have been administered within the last seven days, which will prove that they are not infected with the virus.

“If you put somebody on a plane say from Nigeria who doesn’t have, for instance, the PCR test for Ebola, and they don’t have it, we’ll have to get a list of persons who are coming in. That person will not be allowed to land and that will be the business of LIAT.

“We were very firm with them and I was in discussion with Permanent Secretary [Godfred] Pompey on the security issue, because it’s a health issue, it’s a security issue, it’s an air transport issue. But I want us always to be very vigilant, to be focused in this matter and at the same time, we must not be hysterical. We have to be calm, because the worst thing you can have anywhere is hysteria,” he said.

An Ebola Summit, which is organized by the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA), is expected to be held in Cuba on October 20. Gonsalves, who will be in attendance, revealed that two health officials — chief medical officer Dr Simone Keizer-Beache and medical officer Dr Franklyn James will also be travelling with him.

The Prime Minister told media officials that he expects that the summit will address how ALBA will deal with the issue on a national, regional and global scale.

Additionally, he stated that an Ebola centre in Cuba will be the main attraction for his delegation, as training is important, not only for health officials in the public sector, but persons in the private sector as well.

“That’s an important area in which we have to get involved. How we are doing the training, what a practical facility would be like. I’ve asked Dr Keizer-Beache to have prepared, a document to present, so that they can see what we have done thus far and what we still need to do,” he said.(BK)