Cover Story

No Ebola screening at Airport

Photo:  (UN File photo)

By Kidega Livingstone

As the Ebola cases had been reported in the Republic of Congo last week, the World Health Organization recommended airport screening as a way to contain spread of the disease in high risk countries including South Sudan.

However, South Sudan authorities have not yet started the screening at major entry points including Juba International Airport.

WHO advised that all people leaving DRC to other countries should have their temperatures taken and be asked about any Ebola-related symptoms they might have, including fever, headaches, vomiting and diarrhea.

It is not clear when the authorities at the airport will start screening despite health ministry officials last month saying that a team will be mandated to deal with any suspected case of Ebola for emergency testing and diagnose.

Dr. Matthew Tut, the Director of Emergency, Preparedness and Response at the health ministry in South Sudan, however said that the areas where Ebola was declared are far from former Western Equatoria which is bordering DRC.

Other East African countries have started screening passengers at the airports following the reported cases of Ebola in RDC.

Last week, the Government of the [DR Congo] declared a new outbreak of Ebola virus disease (EVD) in Bikoro in Equateur Province.

The outbreak declaration occurred after laboratory results confirmed two cases of EVD…WHO is working closely with the Government of the DRC to rapidly scale up its operations and mobilize health partners using the model of a successful response to a similar EVD outbreak in 2017. ‘

From 4 April through 9 May 2018, a total of 32 Ebola virus disease cases (among which two are confirmed, 18 probable and 12 suspected cases) were reported from Bikoro health zone, Equateur province, including 18 deaths.

Three of the 32 cases were among healthcare workers. The patients presented with fever, diarrhea, abdominal pain, myalgia and arthralgia, and some also showed hemorrhagic signs and symptoms.

All cases were reported from the catchment area of the Ikoko-Impenge health facility, located 30 km from the central health zone office of Bikoro, which is 280 km by road from Mbandaka, the capital of Equateur province. Of the 21 initially reported cases on 8 May 2018, 17 had epidemiological links (potential contacts with another suspect case).

As of 11 May 2018, there were a total of 34 cases, with 18 deaths (case fatality rate 52.9 percent), among which two cases are confirmed, 14 suspected and 18 probable. Three health workers have been affected, with two suspected cases.

So far, 75 contacts are being monitored by the field teams.


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