Proper hand hygiene is critical in order for persons to avoid contracting the deadly Ebola virus if travelling to affected countries.

Acting Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Elizabeth Ferdinand, is advising travellers, especially those going to West Africa, to access the travel advisory issued by the Ministry before leaving Barbados.

???Apart from saying if you don???t have to go, don???t go, but if you do go, remember that hand hygiene???is the most important thing. It is said that we touch our face roughly 200 times a day so it is very important that we keep our hands clean. ???With the spread of any infectious disease, hand hygiene is the most important,??? she said.

She advised that in the absence of hand washing, persons should use hand sanitisers, and use wet wipes to wipe the tray on board the aeroplane before handling.

Dr. Ferdinand also stressed to travellers going to Ebola-infected countries that they should avoid contact with blood and body fluids; avoid handling items that may have come into contact with an infected person???s blood or body fluids; avoid funeral or burial rituals that require handling the body of someone who died from Ebola; avoid contact with animals or raw meat and going to hospitals where Ebola patients are being treated.

Travellers are also being urged to seek medical attention immediately if they develop a fever, headache, achiness, sore throat, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pains, rash or red eyes. ???Limit your contact with other people when you travel to the doctor and do not travel anywhere else,??? Dr. Ferdinand cautioned.

She advised all travellers to pay close attention to their health after returning to Barbados, especially from Ebola-infected countries. The first 21 days are critical for monitoring for any signs and symptoms of the disease, she stressed.

There are presently no vaccines or specific treatments for the Ebola virus, and outbreaks of the disease have a case fatality rate of up to 90 per cent.

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