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Funeral homes targeted in Ebola fight - Two local cases of Chikungunya recorded

Published:Friday | August 8, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Health Minister Dr Fenton Ferguson (right) and Dr Marion Bullock DuCasse, director of emergency, disaster management and special services at the Ministry of Health, speak to members of the media yesterday about the Ebola and chikungunya viruses. - Rudolph Brown/Photographer

 Jodi-Ann Gilpin and Nardia Lipman, Gleaner Writers

Noting that the Ebola virus can be spread in the handling of dead animals and people, Dr Marion Bullock Ducasse, director of emergency, disaster management and special services at the Ministry of Health, has promised that the ministry will be working closely with funeral homes in ensuring that guidelines are observed to prevent an outbreak.

Speaking at a press briefing at the ministry yesterday, she said the Government is working assiduously to ensure Jamaica is not in the category of high-risk countries for transmission of the virus.

The Ebola virus causes a haemorrhagic fever that has sickened more than 1,300 in Africa, killing more than 900, mostly in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

"It is found that handling of persons who are deceased can result in the transmission of the disease," Bullock Ducasse said.

"We are also aware of cultural practices in some countries, which include the handling of the dead, so guidelines have been developed to ensure that owners and operators of morgues are operating within standardised guidelines, which will ensure that they are protected and, by extension, their loved ones," Bullock Ducasse told journalists.

"Members of the public-health team - in particular, public-health inspectors - are being trained to visit these places to implement the guidelines. Having reviewed those guidelines in terms of the Ebola virus, they will provide the appropriate protection," she added.


The ministry has also re-emphasised that efforts are under way to combat the chikungunya virus, adding that four cases, including two local transmissions, have been confirmed in the island.

Health Minister Dr Fenton Ferguson pointed out that with less than a month left before the beginning of the new school year, a collaborative strategy with the Ministry of Education and other stakeholders will be employed to protect the school population.

"The start of the school year is not very far away and this may present additional challenges with large populations at risk from possible infected mosquitoes," he said.

"We will instruct parish health departments to work closely with school administrators to carry out the necessary vector-control and public-education activities to minimise the risk of exposure to the youth population," Ferguson said.