Guyana on high alert in light of Ebola outbreak in DRC

Chief Medical Officer (ag) Dr. Kay Shako

In light of the new spike of Ebola cases in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Caribbean Region is at risk of the virus spreading here due to tourists traversing its various ports of entry. To this end, the World Health Organisation (WHO) is urging that all countries, including Guyana, take precautionary measures.

Guyana’s Chief Medical Officer (ag) Dr. Kay Shako, in a statement today (Saturday, July 27, 2019) cautioned that Guyana is no less safe than its Caribbean neighbours and therefore, it is imperative that measures be adopted as advised by the WHO relevant to safeguard all passengers and the country’s ports of entry.

She said, “Particularly, emphasis is always placed on monitoring civil aviation activities (International Travel) given that this medium can facilitate the movement of communicable diseases via infected passengers and thereby spreading the threat. The processes related to air travel, specifically, processes associated with outgoing passengers, incoming passengers and activities on board an aircraft can be managed to control the spread of any communicable diseases.”

Currently, the WHO has declared that several measures were considered and recommended for implementation during this phase. One of which is that all travel agencies and airlines selling seats or tickets for travel must take on the responsibility of sensitising their clients on the risk of Ebola.

Among other recommendations are the establishment of an isolated/sterile facility at the airport which is remote from public access, should there be a suspected case or cases of Ebola victims, airport personnel reporting suspicious cases of illness to Port Health Officials and that the PHOs along with medical support team from the Public Health Ministry will subject suspected cases to further evaluation and determine if and when such cases should be taken to isolated/ sterile area.

As of 16 July, the DRC recorded 2,522 confirmed or probable cases of Ebola, including 1,698 deaths. Of the reported cases, 136 are health workers, including 40 who died as a result of the deadly Ebola virus.