Times of Oman
Aug 29, 2015 LAST UPDATED AT 05:57 PM GMT
Oman draws plan to thwart Ebola threat
August 25, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Electron micrograph of an Ebola virus virion. Image: Wikimedia/creative commons

Muscat: With Ebola virus continuing to claim lives in West Africa, the Ministry of Health (MoH) has chalked out an elaborate plan to contain the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in the Sultanate.

The ministry has drawn up plans for reporting and investigating suspected cases, enhanced surveillance at the Muscat International Airport, ensuring prevention from infection and controlling algorithm for the virus, making arrangements for clinical management of any suspected case, putting in place a system of self-declaration by international travellers, managing EVD at primary health care centres, and ensuring safe collection of blood samples from persons suspected to be infected with the highly infectious blood-borne pathogens (e.g. Ebola).

Though no suspected cases have been reported in Oman, the sensitisation effort is intended to be purely precautionary and in line with global best practices.

The virus has infected more than 2,600 people and killed 1,427, according to the World Health Organisation. Though threat to Oman from this epidemic is described as remote, all inward-bound flights to the Muscat International Airport, passengers and crew are being asked to fill-in a 'Self Declaration Form.'

Any passenger on an aircraft who has visited or transited through countries such as Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea, or came in contact with any suspected case of EVD in other countries and is suffering from any of the symptoms like fever, weakness, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, vomiting, diarrhoea, rash or bleeding in the last two months, should be isolated immediately from the rest of the passengers and the cabin crew should apply all infection prevention precautions.

The cabin crew has to inform the pilot who, in turn, will send advance information to the airport terminal services unit at the airport. An alert is also sent to the airport clinic team.

Once the aircraft lands, the airport clinic team approaches aircraft in an ambulance and applies infection prevention precautions (full gear) and shifts the suspected case to an isolation room.

However, the airport clinic should not collect any samples nor it should conduct any procedures but has to inform and coordinate with focal point personnel at the Royal Hospital and notify the National Emergency Operations Centre on their hotline.

Once in the hospital, the staff will isolate the patient in a separate room with adequate ventilation and an attached toilet.

Health Ministry guidelines to control Ebola infection
However, no visitors are to be allowed and the practice of hand hygiene step is a must.

The doctors have been advised to observe and monitor signs of shock/septic shock. The signs of shock include low blood pressure, fast weak pulse and difficulty in breathing.

The MoH has also issued clear instructions enforcing strict adherence to infection control measures in all government and private healthcare facilities and illustrative algorithm for these measures has been issued. "Besides this, capacity of various healthcare facilities to deal with EVD is being upgraded through increased awareness among healthcare professionals who are being provided with all necessary personal protective equipment.

Instructions given
Clear instructions have been sent to all expat health examination centres, including, about ways to detect any suspect case, especially from among those coming from highly affected countries.

This apart, many specialised committees have been formed to deal with the current situation including the Central Command Committee to supervise all plans and preparedness measures applied by different healthcare facilities to deal with any suspect case of EVD," the health ministry said on its website.

A hot line has also been established at the National Centre for Medical Response and Public Health to answer all queries raised by healthcare staff. It will also be used for immediate notification about any suspected case.   

Also, everyone should use personal protective equipment before entering that room and keep a log of all attending health care workers.

To get in touch: rahuldas@timesofoman.com

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