Saint Lucia’s Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Doctor Merlene Fredericks-James, has said that in the Caribbean and Saint Lucia the risk of getting a case of Ebola is extremely low.
Last week World Health Organisation (WHO) Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesusy declared the Ebola virus disease outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.
However, while asserting that the risk to Saint Lucia and the Caribbean is extremely low, this country’s CMO noted that due to travel the possibility of being affected exists, regardless of how low it may be.
“Though the outbreak continues in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the World Health Organisation has indicated that at this point in time it is not necessary for countries that are far away – such as countries in the Caribbean, to implement excessive screening measures at their ports,” Fredericks-James stated in an address disseminated to the media here Tuesday.
She recalled that during the last Ebola ‘scare’ Saint Lucia had implemented screening measures at its ports.
But she disclosed that the measure is not indicated at this point in time.
According to the CMO, the WHO has advised that there should be no hindrance to trade or travel.
“Certainly not for countries as far away as ours,” Fredericks-James explained.
She explained that countries near the DRC or which share land borders with the African nation would need screening measures for persons crossing the borders into or out of that country.
“At the Ministry of Health level we have raised the alert. We have informed our stakeholders and we have meetings planned to inform persons at the national level as well,” the CMO stated.
“We have a National Health Security Committee which should be meeting very soon to discuss the threat,” she said.
Fredericks-James also revealed that Saint Lucia has reactivated its Ebola preparedness plans and will continue sensitizing persons and monitoring the situation.
The deadly Ebola virus was first discovered in 1976 near the Ebola River in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo.
It spreads to people through direct contact with bodily fluids of a person who is sick with or has died from the disease.