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Ebola questionnaire discontinued at ports of entry

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The Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment has discontinued the use of the questionnaires which passengers were required to fill on arrival at ports of entry.

The questionnaires were introduced in St Vincent and the Grenadines last September at the height of the spread of Ebola overseas.{{more}}

A release from the Ministry said while the risk of Ebola being transported to St Vincent and the Grenadines remains low, the ministry continues to ensure that measures are in place for early detection, immediate isolation and containment, in a bid to prevent further spread, clinical management and contact tracing.

Public Health nurses therefore remain on duty at the E T Joshua Airport and officers of the Passports and Immigration Department are continuing their vigilance.

In September of last year, the Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment implemented the use of the questionnaire for all passengers entering St. Vincent and the Grenadines as part of their public health surveillance strategy in the preparedness and response to the Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa.

Chief Medical Officer Dr Simone Keizer Beache said that in keeping with global developments surrounding the outbreak and the Ministry’s assessment of the public health yield from the information gathered by these questionnaires, the Ministry, with the support of key stakeholders, took the decision to discontinue the use of the questionnaire.

The World Health Orgnanization Ebola Situation Report of January 14, 2015, states that: ‘Guinea reported its lowest weekly total of new confirmed Ebola virus disease (EVD) cases since the week ending 17 August, 2014. Case numbers remain low in Liberia, with no confirmed cases nationally for the final 2 days of the week ending 11 January, and the lowest weekly total of confirmed cases since the first week of June 2014. Sierra Leone has now reported a decline in case incidence for the second week running, and recorded its lowest weekly total of new confirmed cases since the week ending 31 August 2014.’ The report also states that: ‘There have been in excess of 21,000 reported confirmed, probable, and suspected cases of EVD in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, with more than 8300 deaths (outcomes are under-reported).’

“The Chief Medical Officer adds that public health surveillance will continue at all of our ports of entry and that public health staff will continue to be deployed at strategic points throughout the country and will work along with immigration officers who will remain alert to detect travellers coming from countries where there is still wide spread EDV transmission,” the release from the Ministry of Health said.

Keizer-Beache concluded that all key stakeholders, including the Passports and Immigration Department, the National Surveillance Committee and all airlines, will continue to be vigilant as they work together to prevent the introduction of this disease in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

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