The Hindu; "The risk of Ebola in India"

"With current flight schedules, scientists say there is a 75 per cent chance that Ebola could reach France and a 50 per cent chance that it could reach the U.K. by the end of the month. The three African nations at the epicentre of the Ebola earthquake are Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.
All the countries are French-speaking and have several flight connections to France — hence the high risk to France. Heathrow Airport is one the world’s main airline hubs, so the high risk to the U.K.

...an Indian nurse working in Monrovia, Liberia, could come home infected with Ebola. She could pass through the airport thermal scanners and go home — completely asymptomatic. When she comes down with the disease, she will be initially treated with love and care by her family members; none of whom will wear gloves or masks. They will be infected. She may finally have to go in, very sick and contagious, to a local hospital. Fearful of quarantine and death, she may not reveal (or more likely not be asked) that she came from Liberia. The symptoms of an acute Ebola infection — high fever, headaches, nausea, diarrhoea — are the same as many of our home-grown but less fatal viruses. The hospital will not isolate her; nor will the nurses and doctors caring for her take any precautions. The epidemic will spread. Professor Peter Piot, the discoverer of Ebola, has said, “An outbreak in Europe or North America would quickly be brought under control. I am more worried about the many people from India who work in trade or industry in West Africa.”

The economic toll from travel restrictions 
may be a lot bigger than most think.

Ebola would become a pandemic when it hits India. We are a poor country with health systems that are already stretched in the “season” of disease. We have one nurse per 1,000 people (according to 2010 World Bank data) compared to 1.6 nurses that Nigeria has or the 10 nurses that the U.S. has for 1,000 people.

...Prevent all persons originating from the three hardest-hit nations — Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia — from coming into India, no matter what their status (health or otherwise). Pre-boarding scrutiny of passports will accomplish this. If and when the epidemic intensifies, extend that ban to persons from Nigeria too..."


No comments: