ISLAMABAD: A World Health Organisation mission arrived on Monday to assess arrangements made by the government to keep Ebola virus out of the country.
During its stay for a week, the mission will visit Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi airports and other entry points. It will assess arrangements to deal with an affected person arriving in the country.
The largest epidemic in history, which broke out earlier this year, has affected several countries. Over 15,350 confirmed, probable and suspected cases of Ebola were reported in Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Sierra Leone, Spain, the US, Nigeria and Senegal till Nov 18. There have been 5,459 deaths.
More than 585 health workers — 94 in Guinea, 341 in Liberia, two in Mali, 11 in Nigeria, 136 in Sierra Leone, one in Spain and three in the US — have been infected and 337 of them have died.
According to WHO Country Head Michel Torres, five members of the team arrived on Monday and three are expected on Tuesday.
He said his team would assess patient and hospital safety and steps taken at airports and other entry points to stop the virus from entering the country.
Mr Torres said he had been informed that the government had taken steps, but his team would analyse whether standard operating procedures were being followed.
An official of the Ministry of National Health Services said the assessment would identify gaps in preparedness and the response plan made by health departments in case the virus entering Pakistan.
“Airlines have been instructed to inform airports if they carry a passenger who has travelled to the countries where the Ebola epidemic is raging on. The flights have to make announcements just before landing and instruct passengers who have travelled to West Africa to report at the Ebola counter.”
The official said there were clear instructions that before a plane’s arrival a team of health officials would be on hand to receive the flagged individuals. “They will be scanned and allowed to proceed out of the airport after obtaining their contact numbers and addresses.”
Published in Dawn, November 25th , 2014