Don’t panic

Health officials say quarantined travellers pose no ebola threat

No need to fear!

That is what health authorities are telling Barbadians after they quarantined two international travellers who recently arrived in the island from a country affected by Ebola.

Although declining to state their nationalities or which country they travelled to, Chief Medical Officer Dr Joy St John told Barbados TODAY the two arrived in Barbados within the past 21 days and did not pose any threat to the general population.

She said the travellers, who also passed through the United States, were being monitored from their residences here.

Chief Medical Officer Dr Joy St John
Chief Medical Officer Dr Joy St John

“They are low-risk travellers and they are not being restricted. We are just checking their temperatures twice daily, which is the usual way that we would deal with low-risk persons, out of an abundance of caution,” Dr St John said, adding that the procedure was in keeping with the guidelines of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centres for Disease Control (CDC).

“They are asymptomatic, that is why they are being quarantined. Remember the difference between quarantine and isolation. Isolation is when the person actually is ill. These persons are fine.”

She also noted that neither one had been in contact with an infected person, nor lived in any Ebola hot-spot even though the country they lived in had reported cases of the deadly disease.

Dr St John also told Barbados TODAY the two were not the first to be monitored in relation to Ebola by local health officials.

“We have monitored several before and all have been fine. It is something that happens . . . and our systems have to be alert,” she said.

In a release issued via the Barbados Government Information Service this evening, the chief medical officer said that in light of the ongoing Ebola outbreak in three West African countries and the recent WHO report that the number of cases was on the rise, Barbados was maintaining a high level of preparedness at its ports of entry.

“The Ministry of Health has continued to maintain vigilance in its Ebola virus preparedness planning. Measures include training, simulation exercises, the implementation of protocols and public education,” she said.

She said that five national simulations have been conducted so far, involving various response agencies, including the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and the Royal Barbados Police Force, and more of these exercises would take place in the coming weeks. The ministry official said the private sector would also be included.

“Members of the public are reminded that while Barbados has not banned travel to or from West Africa, the Ministry of Health recommends that residents defer travel to the endemic region, unless absolutely essential, until the current Ebola outbreak is brought under control,” Dr St John added.

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