Minister of Health Dr Duane Sands.
By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
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.”