A team from the Ministry of Health, led by Health Minister John Boyce, met with members of the Barbados Christian Council yesterday as it continued its public sensitisation programme on Barbados??? preparedness for the Ebola Virus Disease.
Mr. Boyce told the gathering that the threat of Ebola was being treated with the utmost seriousness by his Ministry, and that Barbados??? state of preparedness was now at the stage where simulation exercises were being carried out to test the response systems.
He spoke of the training which had been carried out at the ports of entry to equip front line workers to identify anyone who might come into the island from an endemic area, and who might have been in contact with the virus.
He also said that the two quarantine centres at the airport and seaport had been upgraded and the Isolation Unit at Enmore was now fully operational.
He assured the church leaders that Barbados??? preparedness was being monitored at the highest level with the National Security Committee meeting weekly and Cabinet also receiving a weekly update from the Health Ministry.
Mr. Boyce reiterated that the Ebola Virus could not be transmitted through the air but only through contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person or animal, or contaminated materials. He appealed to the church leaders to assist the Ministry in educating their congregations about the disease.
The Ministry of Health also shared an audio visual presentation on the Ebola Virus Disease with the grouping and fielded questions. During the presentation, Dr. Heather Armstrong revealed that up to now, the Ebola Virus had affected eight countries, with 17,834 cases recorded and 6,346 deaths.
She said that in Barbados, emphasis was being placed on infection control to break the transmission cycle. Containment strategies include early detection, followed by isolation if ill and close follow-up if the person was not ill but had been in contact with an infected person.
Chairman of the Barbados Christian Council, Monsignor Vincent Blackett, disclosed that the Council represented nine major denominations in Barbados and he pledged its support to the work being done by the Ministry to educate Barbadians.
He said that the clergy would be very willing to disseminate any information about the disease to its congregations in an effort to make sure that everyone was fully aware.