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Wednesday Apr 03 2019

Thermal scanner not operational at Islamabad Airport, raising Ebola threat

The non-operational thermal scanner at the new Islamabad International Airport

ISLAMABAD: A non-operational thermal scanner at the new Islamabad International Airport to screen passengers arriving from Africa for the deadly Ebola virus could leave the country vulnerable to cross-border disease transmission.

It has emerged that the thermal scanner installed at the new Islamabad Airport to screen passengers for the virus is out of order, whereas staff from the Health Department are absent from their designated desks.

Such blatant disregard for public health at ports of entry could expose Pakistan to the deadly Ebola virus, which is highly contagious and transmissible by blood, saliva, urine or the vomit of an infected person.

The current Ebola outbreak in Africa is believed to have killed 676 people and infected 406 others.

The Democratic Republic of Congo’s Ebola outbreak is spreading at its fastest rate yet, eight months after it was first detected, the World Health Organisation said on Monday.

More than 11,000 people died in West Africa’s 2013-16 Ebola outbreak. Since then, health authorities around the world have worked to speed up their responses and deployed an experimental vaccine and treatments, both of which have been considered effective. 

Pakistan's National Institute of Health (NIH) has alerted health authorities to mount timely and efficient response to outbreaks and epidemics of diseases that are predicted to be on high alert between March-June 2019.

NIH has termed Chikungunya, Cholera, CCHF, Dengue, Leishmaniasis, Measles, Polio and Pertussis as showing patterns of high-priority communicable diseases.

It has also termed Typhoid Fever (extensively drug-resistant strain) and Naegleria fowleri as national and Ebola Virus and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS CoV) as international events during the spring season.

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