Pakistan sets up Ebola screening facility at airport

The virus is transmitted to people from wild animals

Islamabad: Pakistan has set up a specialcounter at the international airport in the capital Islamabad to screen passengers for the deadly Ebola virus, media reported today.

The measure was taken just days after the officials of World Health Organisation (WHO) met Pakistani health officials and both sides agreed to take several steps to stop import of the deadly virus.

The Dawn reported that members of Pakistani peace missions returning from African countries on chartered flights would be checked on arrival. An official stationed at the airport said that passengers would be checked physically and through thermo-scan machines.

"The crews of the incoming airplanes will give a report about the situation of the flight and patients, if any, to the traffic control centre before landing. That report is called the general declaration," he said.

The government also plans to monitor people coming from the three most affected countries in West Africa - Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone - for 21 days after their arrival to ensure they are not infected.

Airport Health Officer Irfan Tahir said that a guideline for Ebola patients had been received from the health ministry. The immigration staff has also been directed that if they identify any passenger coming from the African countries, they should immediately inform the Ebola counter.

Minister of Health Saira Afzal Tarar while talking to Dawn said at the moment there were around 2,000 officials of the Pakistani peace mission in Liberia and they return to Pakistan through chartered flights.

"I have been informed that the WHO has made it sure that not a single person having the symptoms of Ebola virus is allowed to leave the three African countries," she said.

"It has been decided that whenever officials of the peace missions return to Pakistan, they will be examined in the airplane," she said.

Ebola has become endemic in Africa with the fatality rate of up to 90 per cent with over 4,500 deaths in the current outbreak. The virus is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads through human-to-human transmission by body fluids.

The symptoms of the disease include fever, weakness, muscular pain, headache and sore throat. These are followed by diarrhoea, vomiting, impaired kidney and liver functions. In some cases, both internal and external bleeding also starts.

( Source : PTI )
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