Health sector on alert for Ebola: threat low, officials say

Health sector on alert for Ebola: threat low, officials say

Saint Lucia is being proactive in its vigilance to keep the island safe from the deadly Ebola virus.

Chief Medical Officer in the Ministry of Health, Wellness, Human Services and Gender Relations, Dr. Merlene Fredericks said the surveillance on island is strengthened by supporting international systems, after the World Health Organisation recommended border measures to curb the spread of the disease. This, Fredericks said, is working in Saint Lucia’s favor as passengers have to be screened several times before they arrive on the island.

“There are no direct flights from West Africa to Saint Lucia, so anyone who has been to West Africa, whether nationals or non-nationals, who would be returning to Saint Lucia, would likely have to go through the United Kingdom or the United States before coming to the island,” she said.

Saint Lucia has an existing health strategy stemming from the ICC Cricket World Cup in 2007. This strategy was modified to deal with the Ebola alert.

The Chief Medical Officer added that although there is a low risk of contracting the disease, it does not mean the Saint Lucian public is immune.

“Although it is low, it is possible that someone who may have travelled to the affected West African countries may, on return, carry the disease to other parts of the world, including Saint Lucia.”

The Ebola outbreak began in Dec. 2013. It wasn’t detected until March 2014. On Aug. 8, the World Health Organisation formally designated the outbreak as a public health emergency of international concern.


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