As the deadly Ebola virus creeps closer to the region, public health authorities in Barbados are stepping up surveillance at the island’s ports of entry.
“We have posted signage in the arrivals hall for Chikungunya and we have discussed with the public health officers having similar signage at the airport, primarily in the arrivals, for persons who may think that they have the symptoms of Ebola,” said Keith Goddard, corporate communications specialist at the Grantley Adams International Airport Inc. (GAIA).
“That discussion has started and I am sure you will soon see signage to that effect in the arrivals terminal,” he told Barbados TODAY this afternoon.
The disease has so far killed more than 4,000 people in five countries, including the United States, one of this island’s main tourism source markets and trading partners.
“Apart from the protocol for passengers who may have travelled from any state where Ebola or Chikungunya may have been experienced; there is also a protocol in terms of persons being identified by public health officers in the arrivals hall and individual passengers who come into Barbados and may believe that they have been affected,” Goddard said.
“[They] can make themselves known to the public health officers who are stationed in the arrivals terminal,”he added.
The GAIA spokesman reported that a number of sensitization programmes had been conducted by the public health officers and medical doctors at the airport in recent weeks.
“So we believe that we are ready to be able to manage this situation,” he said.
Goddard pointed out that the immigration and customs departments had a crucial role to play in dealing with any potential disease threat.
“Specifically, I can think of the case of immigration, if a person is travelling from one of those states where there may be a situation of Ebola or Chikungunya, obviously they would have to advise the public health section of the Ministry of Health so that they can then do the necessary checks or protocols,” he explained.
Goddard disclosed that the airport, which has also stepped up monitoring of passengers leaving Barbados, has established a quarantine centre for suspected travellers.
“In the event that you have any incident where there is an outbreak or passengers may have been affected on an aircraft, there is a quarantine centre here at the airport that can be utilized in that event,” Goddard said, while declining to give further details.
At the Bridgetown Port, surveillance has also been intensified.
Barbados TODAY understands that Chief Medical Officer Dr John St John is scheduled to hold a meeting tomorrow of the stakeholders to review the existing protocols.
A medical doctor has also been posted at the Bridgetown Port to oversee the surveillance process and the identification of any suspected cases.
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