Local officials meet regional health boss on Ebola

| 27/11/2014

(CNS): Although there are no reported cases of Ebola in Cayman Islands or anywhere in the Caribbean, local medical personnel and the health ministry said they are continuing preparations for the unlikely event of an Ebola (EVD) patient arriving in Cayman. Dr James Hospedales, Executive Director of the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), met with the health minister, Osbourne Bodden and members of the Cayman Islands Health Services Authority senior management team on 22 November to review the preparedness plans.  “Though we have not had a case, we cannot be complacent,” said Dr Hospedales.

“We must take measures to strengthen individual national and regional preparedness, which will also serve us to face future threats beyond Ebola….I am pleased with the preparedness plans Cayman Islands has put in place for quarantine, isolation and management to be ready to meet the challenge, in the unlikely event of a case being imported.”

Here have been only a handful of visitors to the Caribbean during the past five years from the most affected countries, particularly Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone and the chances of importation of cases from that region are remote. However, the recent incident involving a US health care worker who had, had contactwith an Ebola patient who took a Caribbean

cruise, demonstrated how easily the virus could be spared almost anywhere in the world.
However, the investment required to be fully prepared for what is still a remote but very dangerous possibility can be significant and Cayman has already allocated some $3million to ensure that should an infected person arrive here, officials can contain and treat the patient.

Dr Hospedales noted the problem faced by small nations when it comes to preparations for the arrival of a contagious patient of such a deadly disease.

“As it is very difficult for small nations to be fully prepared, CARPHA is working towards the development of a Regional Coordinating Mechanism for Ebola, the establishment of which was mandated by a Special Meeting of CARICOM Heads of Government in Port of Spain on November 4th, 2014.”

Bodden said he was satisfied with the preparedness measures undertaken and assured the public that the funds approved will be used diligently. Thanking Dr Hospedales for his words of encouragement Bodden noted the available regional support should the need arise. While government is taking appropriate measures, he urged the residents not to travel to West Africa unless it is absolutely necessary.

A total of 15351 cases of Ebola virus disease (EVD) have been reported across six countries (Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Sierra Leone, Spain and the United States of America) and two previously affected countries (Nigeria, Senegal) up to the end of November 18, 2014.  This is the largest and longest ever outbreak of the disease.

There have been 5459 reported deaths. A total of 588 health-care workers (HCWs) are known to have been infected with EVD, and 337 HCWs have died.  The outbreaks of EVD in Democratic Republic of Congo, Senegal and Nigeria were declared over.

There have been 4 cases and 1 death in the United States of America.  All patients have been discharged from hospital, and all contacts in the country have completed the 21-day follow-up period. 

Although there is only limited treatment for the deadly haemorrhagic virus, recent human trials of a new vaccine are said to be showing promise according to the latest international reports.

The Ebola virus is transmitted through direct contact with the blood or body fluids such as saliva, mucus, vomit, urine or faeces of an Ebola Virus Disease infected person (alive or dead).  Officials say that people with the virus who symptom free cannot transmit Ebola. Any person who has travelled to, from, or through Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone or Mali within 21 days of planned arrival in the Cayman Islands will be subjected to health screening and quarantine measures on their arrival.

The team that met Dr James Hospedales included Osbourne Bodden, Minister of Health; and the Health Services Authority Senior Management Team: Lizzette Yearwood, Chief Executive Officer; Dr Delroy Jefferson, Medical Director; Dr Kiran Kumar, Medical Officer of Health; Hazel Brown, Chief Nursing Officer; and Andria Dilbert, Director of Corporate Services.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Fear is a huge business.  Without it, much of our economy and most religions, would fail.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Why do we diligently proceed to spend $3mln on Ebola, now essentially contained in 4 small Western African nations (with travel restriction protocols in every civilized country on Earth), for which GSK now has a functioning antivirus?  When the threat level changes materially, as it has in recent weeks (for the better), we would hope that the HSA would be small enough and nimble-minded enough to absorb, adapt, and respond in kind.  We have to wonder if our ego-driven acquisitions committee would aspire to requisition a new hospital wing for possible victims of Japanese Encephalitis or something else from CDC's long list of scary theoretical ailments?  When this expensive hysteria passes, and rationality returns, Cardiovascular Disease will remain a largely preventable and leading cause of death in Cayman and we will have squandered limited resources on things we never needed and will never use.  It really begs the question why this $3mln has to be spent and who materially benefits.  The ACC should be reviewing all contracts with intensity.