Ebola Screening in Kenya - Wanting.
by OpinionKenya Posted on 12/08/2014
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According to the Consumer Federation of Kenya, the Ministry of Health is not screening visitors from West Africa. A passenger wrote to express their concern.

"My family arrived at JKIA at 4am today from Liberia via Cairo. We asked an airline official on duty where Ebola screening was being done, he had no idea. We went to the medical office at the arrivals lounge and it was closed.

"We went to the Customer Service desk and asked the lady manning it about the issue. She casually told us none of the screening officials was around and that we should proceed to the regular immigration desk. The immigration officials noted that we were coming from Liberia but did not mention Ebola.

"We left the airport without being screened. Kenya is a major transit hub and KQ is still flying in daily plane loads of people from those countries. Even more people are coming via transit from other countries like we did. How long until an Ebola infected person comes through our airport?" Said the traveler. 

Elsewhere and far away from Africa, Asian nations are using thermal imaging cameras and posting doctors at airports to screen out sick travelers. As the Cabinet Secretary for Health, Hon James Macharia relaxes, health authorities in other countries scramble to avert any outbreak of the Ebola virus that has killed over 1,000 people in West Africa.

The World Health Organisation declared the West Africa epidemic an "extraordinary event" and an international public health emergency. 

In China, there were no reports of Ebola cases but hospitals have been told to report any suspected cases.

India, which has nearly 45,000 citizens living and working in the four affected countries, said it would screen travelers passing through, or starting journeys there, when they returned. "The surveillance system would be geared up to track these travelers for four weeks and detect them early, in case they develop symptoms," Health Minister Harsh Vardhan told parliament.

Japan is ready to send suspected Ebola victims to special isolation hospitals, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference.

In Australia, authorities said they had not taken extra steps but airports were on alert for sick travelers, saying the risk of the disease reaching the country was "very low".

Officials in Singapore said the city state, praised for its tough measures against the SARS outbreak that claimed 33 lives in 2003, also faced only a low threat from the Ebola virus. "Measures are already in place to carry out contact tracing and quarantine all close contacts if there is a case," the health ministry said.

In Thailand, health official Opart said the 21 travelers would stay under observation for the entire incubation period, which can last up to 21 days. "Even though Ebola is only a small risk to Thailand we are not taking any chances," he said.

In Kenya? W.H.O. says that authorities have announced that they have implemented measures to prepare for any cases of Ebola, including setting up isolation beds at Kenyatta National Hospital, preparing diagnostic areas at the Kenya Medical Research Institute, and training health and mortuary workers. But if the traveler's testimony is true, this may be just talk. 


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