We're ready if Ebola arrives, say health officials

Updated: 2014-08-15 08:00

(China Daily)

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We're ready if Ebola arrives, say health officials

Over the years, China has gradually formed and constantly fine-tuned its emergency response and infection control system to deal with threats like the SARS epidemic and H1N1 flu pandemic scare.

The system forms the bedrock of any response to outbreaks and includes early detection, isolation of cases, contact tracing and monitoring, and rigorous procedures for further infection control, He said.

We're ready if Ebola arrives, say health officialsFor example, hospitals can alert public health departments of suspicious cases or report confirmed ones.

In return, the health departments help update overall outbreak development and devise or adjust response strategies.

"Such cooperation was not well-implemented before SARS," said Xu Qian, head of the infectious disease department of the China-Japan Friendship Hospital, which treated SARS patients during the epidemic that killed 349 people on the Chinese mainland alone.

"Infection control awareness has largely been enhanced since SARS and high alert at the front lines of our department towards any infections including Ebola has become routine," she said.

Even before the commission issued its emergency response plan, her hospital had "taken actions like staff training and checking patients with fever for background information as if they had traveled to the affected areas".

Hospitals must also report cases of patients suffering unexplained fevers to the CDC, under a new mechanism that was set up following SARS to help detect potential outbreaks, she said.

"Hospitals have been gradually taking increasing public health responsibilities ever since," she said, adding that China is ready to respond to any outbreaks.

A consensus that everyone shares public health responsibility has gradually been reached nationwide, He said.

Government agencies including health, tourism, customs and transport will hold regular talks and set up cooperation mechanisms in case of any viral outbreak, he said.

Guarding against virus

Chinese quarantine authorities have strengthened inspections at its borders as part of measures to prevent the Ebola virus from spreading into the country.

On Aug 4, the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine said in a work notice that it will implement stricter inspections on inbound airlines from regions affected by Ebola, and step up sanitary measures on incoming vehicles and goods.

At Baiyun Airport in the southern boomtown of Guangzhou, which receives more than 1,000 passengers from Africa daily, routine taking of passengers' body temperatures has been practiced strictly.

"Those whose temperature is higher than 37.5 C might be put under medical observation to clear them of Ebola infection," said airport employee Chen Yanling.

In late July, a Hong Kong woman who showed symptoms similar to those of the Ebola virus after visiting Kenya tested negative for the disease but still caused brief panic.

Sierra Leone's National Olympic Committee said its delegation for the upcoming youth games was asked not to travel to China because of an outbreak of Ebola, The Associated Press reported.