Dominica to screen West African students for signs of Ebola

Digital illustration of Ebola virus in   colour background

Ebola virus (Credit: Caribbean360 / Bigstock)

ROSEAU, Dominica, Friday August 29, 2014, CMC – Dominica says while it will not impose a travel ban on people coming from Africa, it will screen new students arriving here from West Africa where an outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus has resulted in more than a thousand deaths.

Chief Medical Officer, Dr. David Johnson, speaking on the state-owned DBS radio, said that a meeting had been held involving various stakeholders to look at the threat the virus, for which there is no known cure, poses to the island.

“There are a lot of discussions in light of what may have happened in other countries as to the pros and cons of putting travel restrictions. The advice that we provide is that given the low risk that we have at this time and given the best available evidence that we have, given all of the obligations we have under the international health regulations…we are guided a lot by what the World Health Organization advises.”

Dr. Johnson said that the advise is that “we cannot go down the route of imposing travel restrictions at this time.

“So we would not advise any restriction on travel or on trade at this time,” he said, noting however that a screening questionnaire for West African nationals entering Dominica would be implemented.

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“We have worked very closely with the medical school (here) where we know there are a number of students from Nigeria and other parts of Africa.

“We have ascertained the number of students they are expecting to come from that country. We have developed what is referred to as a screening mechanism. We have gotten the numbers, we will identify those students when they arrive…find out exactly which part of Nigeria they coming from, whether there is any possibility of them being in contact with anyone who may have had Ebola”.

He said based on the information provided during the screening process” we will take it to the next level in terms of isolation and management of those individuals.”

Dr. Johnson said several countries, including Dominica, were now seeking to establish the appropriate isolation facilities to manage any case that may occur.