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WHO calls for exit, entry screening measures against Ebola spread

Source:Xinhua

Updated: 2014-10-24

GENEVA, Oct. 23 (Xinhua) -- The third meeting of the Emergency Committee convened by the World Health Organization (WHO) concluded on Thursday, calling for the exit and entry screening measures to prevent Ebola outbreak spread to other countries.

The two days' closed-door meeting was convened in advance of the three-month date of the expiration of the temporary recommendations issued on Aug. 8 and their extension on Sept. 22, owing to the increase in numbers of cases in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, and the new exportation of cases resulting in limited transmission in Spain and the United States.

As of Oct. 22, the number of total cases stands at 9,936, with 4,877 deaths. Cases continue to increase exponentially in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and the situation in these countries remains of great concern.

The Emergency Committee noted the key lessons learned to control the outbreak include the importance of leadership, community engagement, bringing in more partners, paying staff on time, and accountability.

It pointed out the primary emphasis must continue to be stopping the transmission of Ebola within the three affected countries with intense transmission. This action is the most important step for preventing international spread.

Specific attention, including through appropriate monitoring and follow-up of their health, should be paid to the needs of health care workers. This will also encourage more health care staff to assist in this outbreak.

The Committee recommended exit screening in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone remains critical for reducing the exportation of Ebola cases. The three heavily-affected countries should maintain and reinforce high-quality exit screening of all persons at international airports, seaport, and major land crossings, for unexplained febrile illness consistent with potential Ebola infection.

The exit screening should consist of, at a minimum, a questionnaire, a temperature measurement and, if fever is discovered, an assessment of the risk that the fever is caused by Ebola virus disease.

These three countries should collect data from their exit screening processes, monitor their results, and share these with WHO on a regular basis and in a timely fashion. This will increase public confidence and provide important information to other states.

The Committee reiterated its recommendation that there should be no general ban on international travel or trade.

For all countries, WHO encouraged them to implement entry screening measures, which may have a limited effect in reducing international spread when added to exit screening, and its advantages and disadvantages should be carefully considered.

Meanwhile, all countries should strengthen education and communication efforts to combat stigma, disproportionate fear, and inappropriate measures and reactions associated with Ebola. Such efforts may also encourage self-reporting and early presentation for diagnosis and care.

The Committee also emphasized the importance of continued support by WHO and other national and international partners towards the effective implementation and monitoring of these recommendations.

Based on this advice and the information considered by the Committee, the WHO Director-General accepted the Committee's assessment, declared that the 2014 Ebola outbreak in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone continued to constitute a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, as well as adopted the recommendations by the Committee.

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