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More on Ebola Preparedness

Hon. Osbourne Bodden, Dr. James Hospedales (third from right), and local health officials met to review the Ebola preparedness plans.

Although there are no reported cases of Ebola neither in Cayman Islands nor in the Caribbean, local medical personnel and the Ministry of Health are continuing preparations for the unlikely event of an Ebola (EVD) patient requiring care.

Dr. James Hospedales, Executive Director of the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), met with the Hon. Osbourne Bodden and members of the Cayman Islands Health Services Authority senior management team on November 22, 2014 to review the Ebola Preparedness Plans.

Noting that there had been relatively few visitors to the Caribbean during the past five years from the most affected countries, particularly Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, the chances of importation of cases from that region are remote.

Dr. Hospedales said, “Though we have not had a case, we cannot be complacent and we must take measures to strengthen individual national and regional preparedness, which will also serve us to face future threats beyond Ebola. In that regard, I am pleased with the preparedness plans Cayman Islands has put in place for quarantine, isolation and management to be ready to meet the challenge, in the unlikely event of a case being imported”.

He added, “As it is very difficult for small nations to be fully prepared, CARPHA is working towards the development of a Regional Coordinating Mechanism for Ebola, the establishment of which was mandated by a Special Meeting of CARICOM Heads of Government in Port of Spain on November 4th, 2014.”

The team that met Dr. James Hospedales includes Hon. Osbourne Bodden, Minister of Health; and the Health Services Authority Senior Management Team: Mrs. Lizzette Yearwood, Chief Executive Officer; Dr. Delroy Jefferson, Medical Director; Dr. Kiran Kumar, Medical Officer of Health; Mrs. Hazel Brown, Chief Nursing Officer; and Mrs. Andria Dilbert, Director of Corporate Services.

Hon. Osbourne Bodden expressed his satisfaction for the preparedness measures undertaken and assured the public that the funds approved will be used diligently as needed. He expressed gratitude to Dr. Hospedales for his words of encouragement and said that he looks forward to the regional support should the need arise. While government is taking appropriate measures, he urged the residents not to travel to West Africa unless it is absolutely necessary.

A total of 15351 cases of Ebola virus disease (EVD) have been reported in six affected countries (Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Sierra Leone, Spain and the United States of America) and two previously affected countries (Nigeria, Senegal) up to the end of November 18, 2014. There have been 5459 reported deaths.

A total of 588 health-care workers (HCWs) are known to have been infected with EVD, and 337 HCWs have died. The outbreaks of EVD in Democratic Republic of Congo, Senegal and Nigeria were declared over.

There have been 4 cases and 1 death in the United States of America. All patients have been discharged from hospital, and all contacts in the country have completed the 21-day follow-up period.

The Ebola virus is transmitted through direct contact with the blood or body fluids such as saliva, mucus, vomit, urine or faeces of an Ebola Virus Disease infected person (alive or dead). For example, touching an infected person’s eyes, nose or mouth or an open cut, wound or abrasion can transmit the virus to the person touching.

However, any person thus exposed to the virus but without symptoms cannot transmit the virus. The public should avoid such exposures and maintain personal hygiene through sanitization and hand washing at all times.

Any person who has travelled to, from, or through Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone or Mali within 21 days of planned arrival in the Cayman Islands will be subjected to health screening and quarantine measures on their arrival.