No Ebola in Jamaica
Anastasia Cunningham, Health Coordinator
Following a brief scare yesterday following reports that someone in Jamaica had been diagnosed with Ebola, the Ministry of Health has come out strongly denying the claim and firmly stated that Jamaica has no case of the deadly disease that is now ravaging parts of Africa.
"I want to categorically state that this time we have no suspected case of Ebola in the country. We are not investigating a suspected case and we have no reason to consider that we have anyone in the country at this time suspected of having Ebola," said Dr Kevin Harvey, acting permanent secretary in the Ministry of Health, via a media release.
"I want to dispel the rumours surrounding a patient who was admitted to the University Hospital yesterday afternoon. The person is in fact a 65-year-old senior physician who travelled to Trinidad and returned to the island feeling ill. The person fell and was admitted to the hospital. There is absolutely no travel history to any Ebola-affected country or possibility of contact."
Harvey said the case has been thoroughly investigated by the ministry's medical team and they are confident that the patient's illness has nothing to do with Ebola. He said the patient has since recovered.
Harvey added that Jamaica has a surveillance system in place to quickly identify, isolate and manage any suspected cases.
According to reports from the World Health Organization, so far, more than 6,574 people have been infected with Ebola, and more than 3,091 have died of the disease. However, it warns that these figures do not demonstrate the true scale of the epidemic. It said these figures are far greater than those from all previous Ebola outbreaks combined.
In the meantime, the South East Regional Health Authority yesterday released an extensive advisory, notifying health-care workers and travellers about the Ebola outbreak and informing them of precautionary measures to prevent the disease from reaching Jamaica and how to minimise the risks of contracting the disease.
Jamaicans are reminded to avoid non-essential travel to countries where the virus has been confirmed. These include: Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Senegal, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The warning comes on the heels of reports that several Jamaican entertainers have visited or are booked to visit Africa since the recent outbreak. There is no vaccine or specific treatment for Ebola, and up to 50 per cent of persons who get the disease, die.