In the wake of the Ebola outbreak in West African countries Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia, the Punjab government has taken preventive measures to deal with any emergency patients of the deadly virus which is said to have infected more than 13,000 people and killed at least 5,000 in the abovementioned countries.
According to Services Hospital AMS Dr Muhammad Ashraf, the hospital has been made the focal treatment centre for any Ebola patients in Punjab.
“In case an Ebola patient is reported in any hospital of the province, he would be referred to the Services [Hospital] for treatment,” he tells TNS.
Dr Ashraf reveals that an isolation ICU has been created for the purpose. Doctors and the staff appointed at this isolation unit have been formally trained by the WHO staff. Besides, they have been supplied the personal protective equipment (PPE).
“There are three steps to deal with an Ebola patient — quarantine, incubation and treatment,” he adds.
Those coming from Ebola-hit countries will be quarantined right at the airports and have to undergo an initial examination. If they are found infected, they will be sent off for incubation which may last up to 21 days. If they are diagnosed with the Ebola virus, they will be referred to the Services Hospital for treatment.
At Lahore’s Allama Iqbal International Airport, thermal scanners are being installed which shall detect the body temperature of the passengers arriving on an international flight.
Reportedly, Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), FIA and the Health Department are working in tandem to check the Ebola outbreak. If a passenger is detected to have flu or fever, he shall be referred to the isolation unit at the Services Hospital where the doctors in special wardrobe will attend him. If, at the end of the probation period, he is declared symptom-free, he shall be discharged.
An airport official says that Ebola prevention begins with the pilot in the aircraft. It means the “flight crew have been instructed to immediately isolate a passenger having high fever or complaints of nausea and/or bleeding.
“The second step involves coming through the thermal scanner at the airport. Thirdly, proper documentation is carried out by the FIA in order to know whether the passenger ever travelled to an Ebola-hit country.”
Dr Muhammad Ashraf stresses on the need for an effective coordination between the federal and the provincial governments in this regard. He says that Ebola is not curable at present. “So, if we want to check the Ebola virus from entering Pakistan, we shall have to put in extra effort.”
He also speaks of international guidelines and standards that should be followed in fighting or preventing the virus.
Another Services Hospital doctor says, on condition of anonymity, “The isolation ward should have been set up near the airport instead of at the hospital. There should be containers or makeshift units that are equipped with wards and medical tools required to meet with any Ebola patient.”
A manager at the Allama Iqbal International Airport, Rashid Muhammad Hussain reveals the Punjab Health Department has set up an isolation unit at the airport also and the CAA is assisting its staff.