Political Leader of the United Workers Party (UWP), Lennox Linton, says in light of the growing national concern of the deadly Ebola virus and the World Creole Music Festival (WCMF), now a mere three weeks away, health officials should begin the process of ascertaining whether or not a major Nigerian act scheduled to perform poses any risk.
At least one Nigerian group and four acts from Congo are on the cards for the 18th edition of the WCMF.
“If this band is going to come here having been in an African country to which they were exposed to the virus, it must be possible at this stage to begin the process of ascertaining whether any of these band members are being exposed to risk factors that would make their arrival on our shores or present some difficulties when they arrive on our shores,” Linton said at a UWP press conference on Monday. “If the government’s ministry of health is unable to do that, the preferable thing to do would be to deny entry for that one band.”
However, he said, the UWP is not in favor a travel ban at this time, but would recommend proactive screening.
Back in early September officials from the Dominica Festivals Committee (DFC) informed that they were awaiting a policy statement from the government on the matter.
Linton stated that there is an absence of information and specific education on the disease and how the ministry plans on dealing with it.
“We cannot hide from it but we can prepare ourselves as effectively as we can, given the resources available to us and the best practices that have emerged in other countries for screenings, and overall coping,” he stated.
Linton stated Dominica must be proactive in its approach to the disease and learn from experiences such as recent surge of Chikungunya on the island.
“Ebola is not here yet but Chikungunya has been here,” he stated. “And when we look back on how we dealt with it, the record will show that we were not sufficiently proactive, nor were we effective in aligning necessary resources and to a proper strategy for coping, which is what we need to do with this Ebola virus.”
He said part of UWP’s health plan is to make Dominica the healthiest place to be. This forms part of the party’s vision to make Dominica the “best place to live, the best place to work, the best place to enjoy life,” he said.
“We see an efficient health system has to be comprehensive, it has to be inclusive, it has to encompass the entire population of over 65,000 people, it needs to accommodate both types of medical care and services that is preventive with a higher degree of diligence towards the preventive aspect,” he noted.
Speaking on the Ebola threat, health authorities here say they are putting more measures in place to screen the disease although the risk of entry remains low.
Public health nurses were expected to be placed at the island’s ports of entry and other measures which are being put in place include the identification of isolation sites, among others.
Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), formerly known as Ebola Haemorrhagic Fever, is a severe, often fatal illness. Up to nine 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 time between acquiring an infection and showing symptoms and signs varies from two to 21 days.
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.
Symptoms include fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat, vomiting, diarrhea, external bleeding and rash.