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Ebola Surveillance to be Heightened at Ports of Entry

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Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, has instructed that Ebola surveillance at Jamaica’s ports of entry be heightened immediately.

Mrs. Simpson Miller said part of this heightening involves an extension of the existing immigration form, to document information on countries which persons have visited or will intend to visit, and whether or not they experience symptoms similar to those characterizing Ebola, on arrival in the island.

The Prime Minister was speaking on October 14, at a special meeting at Jamaica House, where she updated Parliamentarians on the country’s Ebola emergency preparedness and response mechanisms.

“Jamaicans are being encouraged to take action as part of our personal responsibility in this situation. Avoid travelling to Ebola affected countries, and truthfully declare your travel history, when arriving and departing the island,” she urged.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Simpson Miller is hoping that Ebola detection equipment being sourced by the administration for placement at the ports of entry, will arrive in the island shortly.

“We are hoping (that) very soon…we will receive the machines that can detect if someone would be coming off a flight with fever,” she said.

The Prime Minister noted that at least one stakeholder has committed to providing some of these machines.  “I know there are others that the Ministry of Health has ordered and (which) will come in shortly,” she added.

“We are really preparing and all of us should be careful and cautious (about) where we travel at this time,” the Prime Minister urged.

Mrs. Simpson Miller said there is adequate protective gear for allocation to health facilities and emergency response teams islandwide, in the event of an outbreak. Also, that additional gear is available from local suppliers, and that emergency procurement arrangements are in place to access these supplies, at short notice.

“Additional supplies are also available overseas, with arrangements in place for 24 hour delivery, should they be needed,” she added.

Mrs. Simpson Miller reminded the Parliamentarians that isolation rooms are also being established at airports and hospitals to treat Ebola patients, pointing out that a central isolation facility has been identified, and is being equipped, and staff trained.

The Prime Minister assured that the Emergency Health Team is “fully equipped” to provide all the information that is available on Ebola.

“We will be ramping up our communication to all stakeholders, especially the public. I have instructed the team planning and preparing Jamaica’s response to, and monitoring the Ebola threat to be thorough and efficient in their operations. They are to be accessible, and must be accessible, up front, honest, open and clear with the people of Jamaica in all their communication,” Mrs. Simpson Miller emphasized.

By Douglas McIntosh

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