Ebola chances minimal but hospitals in UAE on alert

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Ebola chances minimal but hospitals in UAE on alert

No official alert or infection control protocol until now; guidelines in place in healthcare facilities

By Olivia Olarte-ulherr/senior Reporter

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Published: Thu 16 Oct 2014, 11:57 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 8:58 PM

Medical personnel are on high alert and hospitals are prepared despite the minimal chance of Ebola entering the country. “The chances of Ebola getting here is remote but as a medical person we are ready,” said Dr. Subbian Krishnamurthy, a pathologist and chairman of infection control committee at LLH Hospital.

According to him, there were no official alert or any specific Ebola infection control protocol till this time, but the guidelines on virus disease outbreak in healthcare facilities here are in place.

“We are taking general care. Any patient with symptoms coming with this kind of disease, we will isolate and those giving personal care has to protect themselves…. But the chance of it being transmitted here is less, unless the patient comes from the infected country to the UAE,” he pointed out.

“(As of now), there is no specific direction on what specimen to take or which facility to go for testing. Testing (for Ebola) is not available on a routine basis,” he added.

According to him, symptoms to watch out for include fever and body pain. With the Ebola virus infection, the patient will deteriorate quickly with the bleeding of the mucosa and skin followed by multi-organ failure, which will eventually lead to death.

“The only advantage of this disease is that it doesn’t spread through air like H1N1. It spreads through bodily secretions of infected persons.”

“All of our hospitals have infection control protocols and these protocols are infection-specific. Whenever new infections emerge, institutions will follow the guidelines and recommendations set forth by health regulatory bodies,” said Dr Asha Suresh Prakash, internal medicine specialist at NMC Specialty Hospital.

“Therefore infected patients may be treated in single rooms that follow strict universal precautions such as wearing masks, other protective gear and following correct hand washing procedure. If the case warrants, patients may be treated in isolation rooms,” she added.

Low risk

Despite the low risk of air travellers contracting the deadly disease, both the Dubai and Abu Dhabi airports confirmed that protocols are in placed to protect the UAE borders.

“Abu Dhabi International Airport has procedures and protocols in place as per the guidelines of Health Authority-Abu Dhabi (HAAD) and we are closely working with them to monitor developments and activate the necessary protocols. At the moment all screening and operations remain normal,” said a statement from the Abu Dhabi Airports to Khaleej Times.

In Dubai, officials say that there was no Ebola screening at Dubai airports. “We continue to monitor the situation closely and are in close and regular contact with local health authorities who have oversight on this matter. We have the resources and protocols in place at the airport to deal with any passenger who displays any symptoms,” a spokeswoman said.

According to the latest situation report by the World Health Organisation (WHO), a total of 8399 confirmed, probable and suspected cases of Ebola virus disease (EVD) have been reported in seven affected countries (Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Spain and the US) till October 8. There have been 4,033 deaths.

In August, the WHO declared Ebola a public health emergency of international concern and called countries to help curb its spread. WHO also confirmed that the current death rate has risen to 70 per cent with a potential to see up to 10,000 new cases a week in West Africa if the world’s response to the Ebola crisis in not stepped up within two months.

UAE joins Unicef

On Wednesday, the UAE Ministry of International Cooperation and Development (MICAD) partnered with the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) in implementing a $5 million project to fight Ebola in the three West African nations of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

This latest contribution comes as part of the directives of President Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and which was ordered by General Shaikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces to support the global fight against the spread of the deadly Ebola virus.

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa is the world’s worst Ebola epidemic since the disease was identified in 1976. The disease has had a devastating effect on the daily lives of communities and far reaching implications on the health and well-being of children. Children face not only the direct risks of exposure to the virus, but also the risks associated with the loss of their parents and family members and the limited access to basic services such healthcare, education and protection services.

The UAE’s contribution comes at a crucial moment, as the number of infected people is expected to rise. The contribution will allow Unicef to continue to implement programmes that focus strongly on educating communities about how to understand, treat and stop the spread of the disease, as well as, procuring key supplies for use in Ebola Treatment Units and community care centres.

Most importantly, Unicef is focusing on restoring and protecting the delivery of basic social services such as maternal and child healthcare, water, sanitation, hygiene, nutrition, education and protecting children who have lost their parents and have faced the fear and terror of death and disease.

“Unicef and the government of the UAE have been close partners in a number of emergencies such as the Syria response, Gaza and now the fight against Ebola. It is heartening to see this strong understanding for the needs of children and this unwavering commitment to urgently provide the needed support from the government of the UAE,” said Dr. Ibrahim El Ziq, Unicef Gulf Area Representative.


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