Damascus, SANA – While the United Nations warns that the Ebola outbreak is “winning the race” against attempts to contain it and urges the international community to broaden response and provide more support to the affected states, Syria has already heeded the warning in terms of taking preventive and awareness-raising measures.
Concerns over the speedily spreading epidemic have increased, with Chief of UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER) Anthony Banbury telling the Security Council via video link from the operation’s headquarters in Ghana that he is “deeply worried” that the steps implemented by the international community were “not nearly enough” to halt the advance of the fatal disease.
Mr. Banbury recalled the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recommendation that, within 60 days of October 1st, 70 per cent of all those infected must be in the hospital and 70 per cent of the victims safely buried so as to arrest the outbreak.
The outbreak of Ebola, a highly contagious and fatal virus transmitted through close contact with the infected, has spread rapidly across West Africa since early cases were detected in March, leaving thousands of sick and dead in its wake and sowing panic among local communities.
In its most recent situation report on the disease, WHO, which is leading the wider UN response, reported 8,376 cases and 4,024 deaths from Ebola based on information provided by the Ministries of Health of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.
With the number of infected growing exponentially each day, Mr. Banbury cautioned that UNMEER could expect new caseloads of approximately 10,000 people per week by December 1st, meaning that 7,000 beds for treatment were needed.
In Syria, Director of Contagious and Chronic Diseases Directorate at the Ministry of Health Mohammad Nour Kakaji said that the Ministry has taken a punch of measures at the border crossings, health centers and hospitals to guarantee the immediate reporting of any Ebola case.
Dr. Kakaji clarified that the Ministry has included Ebola in the system of monitoring and early warning to detect any suspected case and making the necessary tests. The Ministry also allocated quarantines in the provinces in anticipation of any case.
He continued to say that other measures included circulating lists that explain symptoms of the epidemic in the public and private health centers and hospitals, urging to report immediately of any suspected case and make the required tests at the laboratories of the Directorate’s branches in the provinces where a suspected case were to be detected in order to be sent to the central laboratory at the Ministry.
The Contagious and Chronic Diseases Directorate, Kakaji added, has also distributed leaflets in the border areas for raising awareness about Ebola symptoms and prevention means among travelers and passengers, particularly those heading to infected areas.
Measures also focused on monitoring data of the coming passengers to the country, particularly from Africa, to make sure they are not infected given that the incubation period of the disease extends from 2 to 21 days, Kakaji said.
He added that the Directorate has also conducted training courses for health staff about the epidemic, its symptoms and means of detection.
Rasha Milhem/Haifa Said