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Sunday, 10 August 2014

Ebola screens intensify at all entry points

PETALING JAYA: The Health Ministry has intensified screening of visitors at all entry points, including international airports although the risk of Ebola reaching the country is minimal.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam said various departments and agencies had been mobilised to keep the deadly virus out.

“Currently, checks involve body temperature screening and detailed profiling of those with a temperature of over 37.5°C,” he said.

The minister said additional precaution would be taken if the visitor had been to affected countries recently.

The Ebola outbreak has seriously hit Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia and Nigeria.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has recommended that heads of state in countries hit by the outbreak declare national emergencies and ensure efficient and effective implementation and monitoring of control measures, including community awareness and infection prevention and control.

Ebola can only be spread by direct contact with bodily fluids of an infected person, from those who died from Ebola, or from contamination of objects such as needles.

Meanwhile, Health Ministry director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, said Malaysians need not fear Ebola as the virus had not been reported here.

“We should be more concerned over dengue, which has claimed more than 120 lives,” he said.

“Affected countries should do as we are doing now, in line with the WHO advisory.”

He said after an alleged Ebola death in Saudi Arabia, Tabung Haji had also taken measures to protect those who might be travelling to the area.

“Tabung Haji works closely with the Health Ministry to ensure that latest information, advice and precautionary methods on all types of dangerous viruses that can pose harm to pilgrims are circulated to them continuously.

“The Haj Operation Mission in Saudi also comprises medical personnel who will guide and advise Tabung Haji and the pilgrims on any latest information and precautionary methods.”

Immigration Department director-general Datuk Aloyah Mamat said her department was also working closely with the Health Ministry.

Earlier, Dr Subramaniam – after launching Malaysian celebrations of the 2014 World Hepatitis Day at Hospital Selayang – lauded the declaration of Ebola as an international health emergency.

He hoped that the declaration would help stop the spread of the virus to other countries.

“What we call ‘exit screenings’ will be made mandatory in the countries with Ebola outbreaks and this is probably the most effective way,” he said.

Exit screenings consist of a questionnaire, a temperature measurement and if there is a fever, an assessment of the risk that the fever is caused by the Ebola virus.

In his speech, Dr Subramaniam said Malaysians needed to increase their awareness of viral hepatitis.

“Prevention is better than cure, as the chances that one will get liver cancer decreases if one does not contract viral hepatitis,” he said, adding that viral hepatitis is the leading cause of 75% of liver cancer cases.

He said those in the high-risk group, such as intravenous drug users, should get checked for hepatitis.

“This silent killer is one of the most prevalent and serious infectious diseases in the world,” he added.

Tags / Keywords: ebola , immigration


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