Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Ebola fight: Medical group calls for national quarantines

Nov 12, 2014
Ebola fight: Medical group calls for national quarantines
LONDON, England - A leading medical training organisation on the front line of the Ebola outbreak has asked the world's governments to take the brave step of enforcing quarantines in the fight against the virus – adding that the current "inexplicable delay" will result in an international epidemic.
EFP Tactical Medical Group, which employs 1,500 people worldwide is currently training medics in West Africa to respond to the Ebola outbreak and related highly infectious emerging diseases. They say the controversy surrounding national quarantines is putting thousands more lives at risk as it could allow Ebola to gain a foothold on another continent while governments continue to debate the issue.

Chief executive Thomas Omogi says the response to Ebola, which has already claimed the lives of more than 5,000 people, has been "badly designed and poorly implemented" and adds current airport checks will fail to detect every case of the disease. Governments around the world should understand their reactions were "inadequate and ill-informed" and should now ignore public opinion and impose quarantines to prevent the killer disease from sweeping across the globe.

After first emerging in December 2013 in Southern Guinea, Africa, the disease has rapidly spread across the continent and there are now more than 10,000 recorded cases. Governments around the world are now radically increasing disaster training and response plans. In Kenya, the government will be working with a medical team from EFP including Dr Steven Hatfill, Thomas Omogi and Mike Taylor with Dr Stephen Juma Ndombi from the Institute of Tropical and Infectious diseases of the University of Nairobi (UNITID), Kenya - a member of the National Disaster Management Unit, an inter-agency organization established in Kenya.

With recorded cases already emerging in the US and in Europe, Mr Omogi says: "Despite the US Government spending £120bn over two decades in preparation for outbreaks of infectious disease and bioterrorism, the initial response to Ebola has been badly designed, and poorly and incorrectly implemented. In an effort to minimize public concern or even panic, leading authorities around the world have made over-reaching statements and assumptions that are not fully supported by research. This is an international crisis and every government should be prepared and equipped with the skills they need to respond."

Mr Omogi says the current policy of screening passengers at airports for high temperatures is ineffective. He adds: "Research shows Ebola patients don't always display fever symptoms and that means current efforts to halt the virus at the world's airports don't go far enough. There has been much debate about quarantines, but this delay is inexcusable. No quarantine is completely effective, but several centuries of experience proves national quarantines do make a big difference in halting the spread of diseases. Governments must not be afraid to take this bold step – ultimately it will save lives."

With a wealth of experience in training teams to respond to crises such as the current Ebola epidemic, Mr Omogi says governments must also work to better protect those tackling the epidemic on the ground and also create rapid response teams to drop into infected zones.
He states: "Workers from around the world have now been infected while trying to combat Ebola. More must be done to equip them with the skills and equipment they need to protect themselves and we must also create ways to respond more rapidly to fresh outbreaks.
"This disease presents a threat to the globe and we must do more to prepare for the potential spread of the disease. This is already the largest known epidemic in the virus' history and we are calling on every government to acquire the skills and the knowledge they need to fight back."