Although Dominica has already announced that there will be no ban on travelers from West Africa because of an Ebola outbreak there, the island is closely monitoring the situation and a change in position is possible, according to health minister, Julius Timothy.
Additionally, Timothy said on Wednesday, Dominica is making efforts to secure protective equipment for health care professionals to make sure resources are available to minimize the risk of a local transmission of the deadly disease.
“At this time introduction of Ebola in Dominica remains low and there seems to be no need for travel bans for persons traveling from west Africa since transmission is associated with people who have been in direct contact with cases,” he stated. “However the situation is being closely monitored and this position many change as the risk of infection for travelers increase,” Timothy added.
He said the island has been in contact with the World Health Organization (WHO), the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) and other agencies to put the “necessary preparation in place and to take the appropriate actions necessary to protect members of the nation.”
Protective equipment is also being secured, Timothy said.
“I must also say to our health care professionals that the ministry is making efforts to secure additional personal protective equipment so as to ensure the resources are available to minimize the risk of local transmission of Ebola or any other serious infectious diseases,” the health minister stated.
However, he noted that resources alone are not enough to prevent transmission.
“All must follow the prescribed infection control practices in order to minimize risks,” he noted.
Last week, Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr. David Johnson, 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.
In neighbouring St. Lucia, authorities have placed medical teams at both of the island’s airports in light of the Ebola outbreak. Similar arrangements are being considered for other ports of entry.
The Ebola outbreak has killed over 1,500 people in West Africa and WHO has described it as an “international emergency.”