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Bahamas Not On Ebola 'High Alert'

Minister of Health Dr Duane Sands.

Minister of Health Dr Duane Sands.

By RASHAD ROLLE

Tribune Staff Reporter

rrolle@tribunemedia.net

THE Bahamas is not on “high alert” for the Ebola virus.

The Ministry of Health on Friday denied international reports to the contrary, calling them false.

A news website in the United Kingdom had misconstrued comments from Health Minister Dr Duane Sands to suggest the ministry has adjusted the level of threat Ebola poses to the country. In fact, Dr Sands had emphasized the importance of proper protocols to prevent the virus from coming to the country.

“Please be advised that the Ministry of Health has not issued an alert related to the Ebola virus disease,” the ministry said in a statement. “The Ministry of Health confirms that there have been no cases of Ebola in the Bahama. All formal communication on health matters are issued only through approved channels, including traditional media houses, and the Ministry of Health’s official website and Facebook page. The ministry wishes to assure the general public that the Bahamas supports and adheres to the recommended World Health Organization International Health Regulations guidelines as it relates to trade from countries currently involved in the Ebola outbreak. Hence, surveillance at our ports of entry and health facilities are always on alert, and remain ready to respond should a need arise.”

Dr Sands, noting Ebola’s serious risk to the public, told reporters before a Cabinet meeting this week that his ministry has engaged agencies throughout the country to identify people who could be at risk for the virus.

He spoke after a report that a Delta Airlines flight in the United States en route to the Bahamas was stopped when it was discovered a passenger had travelled to Uganda.

“We are absolutely on alert,” he said. “So when the public health teams go out and do surveillance they are looking for evidence of diarrheal diseases, water borne diseases, vector borne diseases and they are working even in the post Dorian reality and it’s working.”

“We live in a world of Ebola and there are international health regulations that define what constitutes a risk or hazard. The Democratic Republic of Congo is the epicenter of the current Ebola outbreak. This has now spread to Uganda and Rwanda and so when persons are identified as potentially having a fever and or constitutional symptoms and they have travelled to an area where there have been documented cases of Ebola – it now triggers a number of protective mechanisms. I believe there is a reason why the flight was detained but as you can imagine the entire world is trying to contain a very serious public health risk.”

Comments

Well_mudda_take_sic 1 month, 1 week ago

".......surveillance at our ports of entry and health facilities are always on alert, and remain ready to respond should a need arise.”

Oh, really? Come now Dr. Sands, why do your words ring so hollow? Besides, as we all well know, many Haitian nationals choose not to use our conventional ports of entry.

"........my ministry has engaged agencies throughout the country to identify people who could be at risk for the virus."

This certainly sounds like a lot of hot air of the kind most politicians are well known to produce.

“We are absolutely on alert,” Dr. Sands said. “So when the public health teams go out and do surveillance they are looking for evidence of diarrheal diseases, water borne diseases, vector borne diseases and they are working even in the post Dorian reality and it’s working.”

Wow! Since May 2017 you have been telling us over and over again, Dr. Sands, about how our public healthcare system suffers from a serious lack of financial resources and has a grave shortage of doctors, nurses and other healthcare personnel. Yet somehow you have managed to get teams of public health personnel out there doing Ebola surveillance on a regular (sustained) basis. Truly amazing, but unfortunately not very believable.

"“We live in a world of Ebola and there are international health regulations that define what constitutes a risk or hazard."

No argument there Dr. Sands. But pray tell: Exactly what tangible steps have actually been taken by the Minnis-led FNM government to protect the Bahamas, as much as possible and in a meaningful way, from an outbreak of the Ebola virus in the Bahamas?

In the case of visitors travelling to the Bahamas via more developed countries like the U.S., we are able to derive considerable comfort (protection) from the effective screening procedures of those countries. A good example being the recent Delta Airlines flight in the United States en route to the Bahamas that was stopped when it was discovered a passenger had travelled to Uganda. But what about all of those visitors travelling to the Bahamas who do not transit through a developed country, e.g. legal and illegal Haitian nationals travelling to the Bahamas directly from Haiti?

We can ill-afford another teachable moment from the Minnis-led FNM government like the one we have received in the aftermath of Dorian. Lack of preparedness by not having appropriate training in contact tracking and isolation techniques, effective quarantine facilities, adequate supplies of proper medications, etc., etc., combined with no luxury of time for delay, could prove fatal for all of us Bahamians if we find we must endure yet another teachable moment from the Minnis-led FNM government. The U.S. might just find it necessary to quarantine our entire nation and that would certainly prove to be a greater disaster than multiple future Dorians.

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geostorm 1 month, 1 week ago

I read that article on the UK website the other day and wondered where in the world they got that incorrect information from.

This just proves how important it is to verify your news source.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 1 month, 1 week ago

They likely got it from U.S. health authorities in connection with the recent Delta flight en route to the Bahamas that had to be stopped.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 1 month ago

Reports like the two below are all over the internet. The government of Haiti is in total disarray (all but collapsed) and neither our Minnis-led FNM government nor the Panamerican Health Organization (PHO) should be placing any great deal of reliance on that country's ability to prevent and/or quickly contain an outbreak of Ebola.

https://www.haitilibre.com/en/news-29...">https://www.haitilibre.com/en/news-29...

https://www.haitilibre.com/en/news-12...">https://www.haitilibre.com/en/news-12...

Have our defense force seamen received the necessary training, virus protection gear, equipment and supplies of medications that they would need to quickly identify and address/contain Haitians interdicted at sea who may be carriers of the Ebola virus? If not, the entire crew of an intercepting defense vessel could fall victim to a possible outbreak by the time the vessel returns to New Providence.

We should have a large defense force base with an appropriate medical facility located on one of our southern most islands where interdicted Haitians seeking to gain illegal entry to our country must first be taken for infectious disease screening before any further processing. This should also apply to U.S. Coast Guard interdictions/interceptions on behalf of the Bahamas government, i.e. all illegal aliens captured should go through the disease screening exercise at the southern defense force base/medical facility before being brought to New Providence for detention and deportation.

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