Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr. David Johnson has disclosed that although there will be no travel ban on West Africans coming to Dominica, there is a screening process for medical students coming from that part of the world.
Johnson made the remarks during an interview with State-owned DBS Radio.
He said several stakeholders held discussions on the matter, “and on the advice that we have at this time we cannot go down the route of imposing travel restrictions at this time,” he stated. “So, we would not advise restriction on travel or on trade at this time.”
He said the ministry of health has been working closely with the medical schools, in particular one off shore school that African students attend, for the names and numbers.
“We have developed a screening mechanism,” he noted. “We have gotten the numbers. We will identify those students and persons when they arrive and they will go through what we call a screening questionnaire with those individuals to find out exactly which part of Nigeria they are coming from whether in fact there is any possibility of them being in contact with anybody who may have had Ebola.”
Johnson added that based on what they find in that screening, they will “take it to the next level in terms of isolation and management” of those individuals, .
The CMO said there are advantages and disadvantages of imposing travel restrictions and realistically, he said, with appropriate isolation measures in place to manage any possible case, health authorities don’t expect to get an “explosive situation” of Ebola in Dominica.
Meantime, with several huge acts from Congo and Nigeria scheduled to perform at the Oct 24-26 World Creole Music Festival (WCMF), organizers say they are planning ahead on with how to dealing with the issue.
Marketing Assistant at the Dominica Festival’s Committee Marva Williams said three meetings had so far been held with stakeholders in the areas of health, safety and security and the Environmental Health Department has confirmed that procedures are being put in place to deal with the matter. She said information will be given out as the festival draws closer, “so we can alert the public in terms of measures and where we are at when we get there,” she explained.
Nigerian act “Flavor” and other Soukous acts from Congo such as “Lokassa y Bongo, Dally Kimo, Ballou Canta and Yolanda Sisters” are scheduled to perform at this year’s festival.
Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), formerly known as Ebola Haemorrhagic Fever), is a severe, often fatal illness. Up to 9 out of every 10 people with the infection die. There are no licensed specific treatments or vaccine available for use in people or animals. The virus is highly infectious and is spread by person-to-person transmission through direct contact with bodily fluids or secretions of infected persons including blood, sweat, urine or faeces. The time between acquiring an infection and showing symptoms and signs varies from 2 to 21 days.
The most common symptoms experienced by persons infected with the virus are the sudden onset of fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat. This is followed by vomiting, diarrhoea, rash, impaired kidney and liver function, and at advanced stage, both internal and external bleeding.