Are we ready, and ready for what?
THE EDITOR, Sir: Are hospitals in Jamaica prepared to handle Ebola patients, and can the public be assured that the virus should not pose the same threat in Jamaica or the United States as it does in Africa? What precautionary measures are being implemented before it hits our shores?
Symptoms generally appear between two and 21 days after infection, meaning there is a significant window during which infected persons can escape detection, allowing them to travel. Symptoms include fever, vomiting and diarrhoea.
Ebola cannot be spread through the air, but only through contact with bodily fluids such as blood, diarrhoea and tears. Jamaica is not short on chatterboxes who would wish to chat away a problem. I have heard people say that others should not talk about Ebola for fear that things talked about often happen.
It is not a matter of if Ebola will come; it is when it comes. We need to get our sensitisation programmes on track as we prepare our first responders - transporters, immigration, customs and health services officials - for the onset of the disease.
There should be established a few centres for disease control - one in the east, one in central Jamaica, and one in the west. This Ebola crisis in Africa has the potential to be a significant global threat, as it is estimated that, by January 2015, more than 1.4 million people could be infected globally, if no successful intervention to slow the virus is found.
The onslaught of the chikungunya virus in Jamaica can provide an idea of how a more deadly virus would be dealt with and the capabilities of our health system, which is already bursting at the seams.
We should stop talking and approach the American Centers for Disease Control immediately for help in setting up facilities with first responders.
The big question to Minister Fenton Ferguson and the people of Jamaica is this: Is Jamaica ready, and ready for what?