Oman


Oman stands guard over killer Ebola virus threat


Ebola is a haemorrhagic fever where the body becomes impaired and a person can begin to bleed from any part of the body such as eyes, nose, ears. Here, health specialists are seen working in an isolation ward for patients in Guinea. Photo: Supplied

Muscat: Ebola does not pose a threat to Oman since the government has already taken all necessary precautions to minimise the risk of catching the virus, a Ministry of Health official said on Tuesday.  

The official said the government has a strategy in place in all hospitals, the airport, borders and public places to make sure the disease does not infect anyone in the country. "We have issued strict instructions to the air travel industry in the Sultanate, border control authorities, medical officials and advised all corporate companies, including the retail businesses, how to take precautions regarding the Ebola virus," a Ministry of Health spokesman told Times of Oman.    

He added, "We know people are concerned but we would like to assure that everything is in control and everything to be done about the virus is being done and there is no reason to panic."

Doctors in Saudi Arabia are testing a patient suspected of having contracted Ebola during a trip to West Africa, hit by an epidemic of the virus, its health ministry said Tuesday.

The Saudi man was admitted to a hospital in the Red Sea city of Jeddah after showing symptoms of haemorrhagic fever upon his return from Sierra Leone.

The patient, in his 40s, is in a critical condition and has symptoms "similar to that of Ebola infection."

Ebola-like symptoms include fever, vomiting, severe headaches and muscular pain and, in the final stages, profuse bleeding.

The World Health Organisation said on Monday that at least 887 people have died from Ebola since the beginning of the year, after the virus spread across Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

In April, Saudi Arabia announced a ban on visas for Muslims from the three West African nations wishing to perform the pilgrimage to the holy sites there.

Ebola is a haemorrhagic fever where the body becomes impaired and a person can begin to bleed from any part of the body such as eyes, nose, ears. The virus is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads through human-to-human transmission.

The Public Authority for Civil Aviation said all Oman airports have issued advisory to all travellers and tourists, following precautionary measures issued by the International Civil Aviation Organisation  (ICAO) to all member states across the world.

Passengers, goods coming to Oman being monitored
"We have taken every precautionary measure to make sure passengers or goods brought in Oman that are not likely to be infected by Ebola. All our overseas partners are monitoring the situation very closely," a PACA official said.

An Oman Air official said the national carrier is working with other airlines to respond to passengers who show signs of being infected with the disease.

Precautions include separating sick travellers from other passengers, covering faces with a surgical mask, having air personnel wear disposable gloves, and reporting potential sick travellers to authorities.

"We are very strict about passengers boarding our fleet wherever we operate around the world. Both cabin crew and our ground staff know what to look for and how to respond in case of a problem," the Oman Air spokesman said.

Screening
The World Health Organisation (WHO) had earlier said that screening passengers at points of entry is not recommended since doing so will have very limited impact.

The agency did not recommend travel restrictions or closure of borders.

A second American who contracted Ebola while caring for patients in West Africa was on her way to a US hospital for treatment on Tuesday.

A medical evacuation plane carrying Christian missionary Nancy Writebol left Liberia for Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Georgia and stopped early in the day to refuel in Maine, CNN reported.

Writebol was headed to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, the same facility where American doctor Kent Brantly is being treated.

He was also sickened with the dangerous virus while taking care of patients in the Liberian capital.

To get in touch: saleh@timesofoman.com

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