Pretoria: The South African Department of Health says citizens should not panic over the outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in West Africa, as all precautions are being taken to prevent its spread.
Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi says his department is closely monitoring the Ebola situation in West Africa and has taken the necessary steps to detect and treat cases if they arrive in the country.
According to the department, OR Tambo International Airport and Lanseria Airport have thermal scanners that detect travellers with raised temperatures. These travellers, when identified, are assessed at the medical facilities at these airports.
“Our surveillance activities are extremely effective,” said Minister Motsoaledi.
Minister Motsoaledi said the National Health Laboratory Services and the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) have also intensified their surveillance at the laboratories.
The health ministry participated in a meeting convened by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) in April, where all affected stakeholders were alerted of the outbreak and addressed challenges that may be experienced.
The health ministry said the International Health Regulations (IHR) issues related to EVD were also highlighted in the meeting.
Steps to mitigate the risks of letting in an infected person into South Africa were also discussed. Organisations that transport sick patients into South Africa for treatment were also represented at the meeting.
The department said an alert was then circulated to the Environmental Health Directorate (including Port Health), provinces and the CAA for further circulation following the first report of EVD outbreak in Guinea.
The alert emphasised that all Port Health officials should be aware of the EVD outbreak and have a high index of suspicion for travellers with EVD signs and symptoms.
It also emphasised that all health care workers should have a high index of suspicion for EVD when managing patients with a travel history to West Africa.
“The department has been monitoring the EVD outbreak through updates provided by NICD, Promed, World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United States Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (US-CDC),” the Health Department said.
It committed to sensitise all outbreak response teams of the outbreak and the risks of imported cases entering South Africa.
“Outbreak response teams were alerted to be prepared to respond in the event a suspected case was identified in the country,” said the department.
The private sector, including laboratories and hospitals, are also kept informed of the EVD situation during the monthly Multi-sectoral Outbreak Response Team (MNORT) meetings that are convened by the National Department of Health.
SOURCE: SOUTH AFRICAN OFFICIAL NEWS