Passengers to detail travel history at Bangladesh airports in Ebola caution

Passengers arriving at Bangladesh airports will have to provide travel details of the last one month as part of the government’s Ebola virus prevention plan.

The decision was taken at an inter-agency meeting at the Shahjalal International Airport on Thursday night.

Health and Family Welfare Minister Mohammad Nasim, Civil Aviation and Tourism Minister Rashed Khan Menon and State Minister for Home Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal attended it along with other officials.

The national disease monitoring agency IEDCR’s Director Prof Mahmudur Rahman who was present at the meeting told civil aviation authority would include an additional space in the arrival card as soon as possible.

“In that space the passengers have to put in their last one month’s travel history,” he said.

He said all airlines would be instructed to announce during flights that passengers must fill out the space.

The decision came after media reports that a few passengers coming from Liberia managed to pass the airport without screening.

The government later traced those passengers and identified that they came from Liberia after travelling at least two more countries.

Two days to 21 days is the incubation period of the highly fatal Ebola virus.

The meeting also decided that the government would buy thermal scanners to be set up at all airports to record temperatures while passing through the archway.

Fever is one of the symptoms of Ebola infection that prompts doctors to make further investigations, though WHO has suggested screening at all ports only for affected countries while people going out.

The current Ebola outbreak that WHO termed an international health emergency is the worst outbreak on record and has killed 4,447 people so far, mostly in West Africa’s Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea.

The first case was reported in Guinea in March.

But travel restrictions on infected people and the absence of direct air links with the affected countries made the chances of the deadly virus reaching Bangladesh “a remote possibility”.

However, after the US announced its first case recently, it drew much global media attention, including in Bangladesh. Spain has also recorded a case.

The health minister earlier said he had ordered foolproof measures to prevent the virus from entering the country.

He was surprised how the virus spread to slip into the US and Spain despite their strong health regime.

Given the very high mortality rate, doctors say it would be very difficult for a person to carry the virus from one country to another.

The risk of infection was also very low since person-to-person transmission results from direct contact with body fluids or secretions of an infected patient.

The US health workers who contracted the infection were nursing a patient at a Dallas hospital.

Ebola, mainly an animal disease, was first reported in Congo in 1976. The disease got the name after a river in that country.

WHO blames weak health systems in the currently affected West Africa countries tbat are lacking in human, financial and material resources at the time of categorising Ebola as an international emergency.

Source: BD news24


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