Thus far no Cuban has been diagnosed with the virus
By Fabian Flores (Café Fuerte)
HAVANA TIMES — Government authorities have increased control measures to prevent the possible introduction of Ebola into Cuba and to act immediately if a case is detected in the country. So far no Cuban has contracted the deadly virus.
The Ministry of Public Health (MINSAP) and other agencies remain on alert and with extra vigilance on passengers arriving in Cuba from risk countries. Likewise, the Pedro Kouri Institute of Tropical Medicine in Havana is fully prepared to receive and treat people who may be diagnosed with Ebola, health officials said on Saturday.
MINSAP managers in the areas of epidemiology, disease control and international medical cooperation met with representatives of the press to draw a picture of the epidemiological situation and insist on preventive control of Ebola within and beyond national borders.
The airlines have taken the corresponding sanitary measures and at ports and airports monitoring and control actions are in place as well as a series of warnings about the need for personal hygiene and in food handling, both in the home or in their production and sale.
“We have to take special care in the case of contact with people from affected countries and stay informed on the epidemiological situation, even more rigorously if it comes from people traveling to countries where cases of Ebola have been reported,” said Dr. Jorge Perez Avila, director of the Institute of Tropical Medicine.
Perez Avila explained that the medical staff has basic gear such as gloves, caps, gowns and masks for protection in cases of patients suspected to be infected with Ebola, and are enabled with all necessary accessories when the presence of a person sick with the virus is detected.
“The observation of African students arriving in Cuba is a health priority,” said Dr. Niurka Molina Aguila, Head of the Department of International Health Controls.
Today, when passengers pass through the airport terminals they are monitored by a temperature scanner and everyone who arrives in the country with more than 37.5 degrees (99.5 F) is monitored to check the temperature manually and doing a physical exam if necessary.
If the situation of the traveler so merits he/she is transferred to the Pedro Kouri Institute of Tropical Medicine or designated hospitals in other provinces.
No infected Cubans
To date no Cuban has contracted Ebola in Cuba or abroad, and the authorities of the Ministry of Public Health have strict controls in place for medical missions serving in West African countries hit by the epidemic.
A total of 16 Cuban doctors are working in four regions of Guinea Conakry and 23 in four areas of Sierra Leone, two of the nations most affected by the virus, which since its spread in March, has brought on 1,711 cases and 932 deaths.
Although in the institutions where they work some Ebola cases have been diagnosed, the Cuban staff is not in contact with the infected.
While vacationing in Cuba, the doctors working in Africa received preparation to deal with patients suspected of having the virus, but by a decision of the authorities in Guinea Conakry and Sierra Leone they have stayed away from that task.
Decision by the host governments
“It was a government decision of these countries that our doctors be kept isolated from areas where patients infected with the disease are treated,” said Dr. Jorge Delgado Bustillo, deputy director of the Ministry of Health’s Unit for Medical Cooperation.
Nonetheless, the Cuban doctors use the means of protection in the care of patients attending the clinic for consultations and treatments for other reasons.
During the meeting, Dr. Manuel Peña Santín, Santin Peña, MINSAP director of Epidemiology, addressed the epidemiological situation of the country, characterized by outbreaks of dengue and cholera, and 13 cases of the Chikungunya virus. The first report on Chikungunya, issued by MINSAP in June, put the number of cases at six, which then rose to 11 in July.
The specialist said there is “an imminent risk” regarding Chikungunya “due to our geographical location.”
The number of patients with dengue and cholera, which have proliferated throughout the country during the summer months, was not specified.