Muscat: The Ministry of Health has issued guidelines to the country's civil aviation authorities for the steps required at the country's airports to prevent the spread of Ebola virus and the procedures to be taken after detection of a case.
Speaking at a press conference, on Monday, Dr Mohammed bin Saif Al Hosni, undersecretary of health affairs in the Ministry of Health, said, "The ministry has communicated with the Public Authority for Civil Aviation to take steps to tackle the Ebola virus at different airports in the country."
However, he asserted that there was no suspected case of the Ebola virus in the country and there was no need to press the panic button. Al Hosni also scotched all the rumours on this issue.
"I do not wish to over-emphasise or under-emphasise the seriousness of the disease," he noted.
"The Ministry of Health confirms that so far, there are no suspected cases of Ebola virus or haemorrhagic fever currently affecting people from the West African countries. Health authorities are ready to deal with such cases," he said.
Al Hosni said that a system has been developed to deal with the suspected patients either coming by an airliner or a ship.
Guidelines for Ebola prevention
In such an eventuality, the Central Command Committee will have to be informed, which will then isolate the patients and send them to designated hospitals.
The Royal Hospital is the designated hospital. This can be extended to Armed Forces Hospital or Sultan Qaboos University Hospital and others in the area.
"A national comprehensive communication plan is being developed targeting all communities to raise awareness about the disease," he said.
These are parts of the preventive measures and procedures which involve the government, private sector and the people.
He said the ministry has issued standard guidelines to deal with any suspected cases of the Ebola virus including how to identify, notify, diagnose and treat such cases with illustrative algorithms for all these procedures. They include standard laboratory guidelines on different diagnostic procedures and methods of safe collection and handling of patients' samples.
The ministry has also issued clear instructions on the strict adherence to infection control measures in all government and private healthcare institutions, he added.
Al Hosni said that the ministry was upgrading healthcare facilities to deal with the Ebola virus through increasing awareness among healthcare professionals and providing them with the necessary personal protective equipment.
"Clear instructions have been sent to all expat health examination centres that include steps on identifying cases especially coming from highly affected countries," he added.
Many specialised committees have been formed to deal with the situation, including the Central Command Committee to supervise all plans and measures required to deal with any suspected case, said the undersecretary.
He said that the continuous cooperation and coordination with international health organisations and the executive office of health ministries of the GCC for standardising efforts and measures will be taken by different countries.
The ministry has set up a hotline at the National Centre for Medical Response and Public Health to answer all queries raised by healthcare staff and to be used for immediate notification for any suspected cases.
Recent statistics released by the World Health Organisation as of August 15, revealed that 2,127 Ebola cases, either confirmed, probable, or suspected have been reported. Out of these, 1,145 have died. The mortality rate is about 54 per cent.
The general mortality rate reported for this disease has ranged from 25 to 90 per cent in more than 30 outbreaks since 1976.
A Ministry of Health statement said that the disease spreads to humans through contact with certain infected animals like fruit bats, chimpanzees, gorillas an