To date, no confirmed case of Ebola has been reported in The Gambia, the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare has disclosed Wednesday.
In a press release sent to the Daily Observer, the Ministry however informed that due to the active surveillance system it has put in place, two people who travelled from one of the affected areas in Guinea (Macenta) have been traced by the surveillance network. Although their clinical signs are not specific for Ebola, it noted, they are being treated in an isolation ward and all standard infection control measures are being observed.
"The MOHSW does not want to take any chances so their samples have been taken for investigation in the regional reference laboratory in Dakar to rule out Ebola infection. Contact tracing and follow up are on-going. The public will be notified of the outcome of this investigation as soon as information is made available," it indicated. But speaking to the Daily Observer late Wednesday evening, the minister of Health and Social Welfare, Omar Sey said in fact the test results of these suspected cases have proved "negative".
The Ministry further informed that it is closely monitoring the Ebola situation in Guinea Conakry and neighboring countries. Because Ebola is a very fatal disease and spreads very fast within the human population, it noted that the Ministry in collaboration with its partners and stakeholders have taken a number of preparatory measures to prevent the disease from spreading into the Gambia. "These include; an official press release issued by the Ministry to inform the general public about the situation in Guinea, which was followed by a series of pubic sensitization programmes in the media, briefing stakeholders on the situation in Guinea and on the national response plan, reactivation of existing emergency preparedness and management structures and networks, country-wide rapid assessment of supplies and resources available on the ground and at health facilities in preparation for the epidemic; reactivation of cross border consultations and deployment of public health officers at strategic border areas with the Republic of Senegal and at the national airport to provide a 24-hour service of sensitization and screening of incoming travelers; and strengthening the disease surveillance system to track both active and suspected case of Ebola," it outlined.
The release went on to state that meanwhile, the Ministry is taking the necessary preventive measures to protect the health of the general public and wishes to reassure that there is no need for panic and people should go about their normal business but to remain vigilant and report any suspected cases to the nearest health facility. "The signs and symptoms of Ebola are similar to some other conditions and they may include vomitting, diarrhoea, sore throat, joint and muscle aches, stomach pain, headache, red eyes, and bleeding from body openings may be seen in some patients. People can be exposed to Ebola virus from direct physical contact with body fluids like blood, saliva, stool, urine, etc of an infected person and soiled linen used by a patient. To prevent Ebola, people should therefore avoid direct contact with body fluids of a person suffering from Ebola or has died of the disease. Strict personal hygiene through hand-washing should be adhered to at all times," it concluded.