COSTA RICA NEWS — “We are not prepared to deal with Ebola, no cause alarm. We have no cases. But there is a need to divide the actions, the first corresponds to the Ministry of Health, who should declare an early warning.”
Those were the words of Mario Ramírez, president of the College of Physicians (Colegio de Médicos, in Spanish), on ADN90.7 FM radio on the country’s preparation against an eventual spread of the disease.
The Caja Costarricense del Seguro Social (CCSS) – Social Security – announced this week that it is taking an inventory of supplies and needs to face the disease.
The doctor said that although the Ministry of Health says to be prepared and have everything ready, the reality is that there is no training of medical staff, at Migración (the immigration service), and nor does the country have the infrastructure to handle a possible infection.
“I think we are failing at the airports and land borders. We saw this past week (on Oct 4 – Tras el caso del migrante de Ghana, que trascendió el 4 de octubre, La Nacion) the case of a Ghana national taken to the Hospital Calderón Guardia, where all protocols, as if he had been infected, were violated,” exemplified the doctor.
Another concern relates to the detection of possible infections. The doctor explained that it takes between 2 and 21 days incubation, but health officials in the country are looking for are visible symptoms. “It’s not just the external appearance of the person, but two or three days after entering the country as they begin to experience symptoms and when it is really contagious,” explained the doctor.
The doctor says that the CCSS (public) hospitals does not have Ebola-proof rooms, because they are designed to deal with (avoid) “regular” infections.
The World Health Organization (WHO) states that to block Ebola spaces with negative air pressure is required, so that it does not mix with the outside air. Ramirez said that in Costa Rica only a private hospital meets those conditions. An Ebola-proof room has the air is drawn in from the hallway and then goes out through a series of high efficiency particulate air [HEPA] filters. The HEPA filters connect to duct work that goes up to the top of the roof of the hospital and is discharged above the roof, as explained by the US National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases .
“If we talk about hospitals and levels in Costa Rica it would be a minus one, the problem is that we are not prepared, ambulances are unaware or the protocols for carrying infected patients, the isolation rooms we have are for routine infections,” reiterated the doctor.
Close to our borders
On Wednesday Thomas Eric Duncan, in Texas, the first man diagnosed with the disease outside Africa, died. Duncan became the first Ebola fatality in the US.
Anxiety in the US is growing, hours after Duncan’s, the official who had visited contaminated apartment shows ‘some’ symptoms. The man was admitted to the emergency room at Texas Health Presbyterian hospital in Dallas, where hours earlier Duncan succumbed to the Ebola virus, the hospital confirmed. “The risk is minimal,” Maher Maso, the mayor of Frisco, a northern Dallas suburb, said at a hastily-called press conference about the law enforcement official, a Dallas county sheriff’s deputy, on Wednesday afternoon. He added that authorities are moving forward “with an abundance of caution”.
Brazil says it has identified a suspected Ebola case who arrived in the country on Thursday. The patient, Souleymane Bah from Guinea, presented himself after coming down with a fever at a public health centre in the town of Cascavel in the southern state of Parana.
A nurse in Spain is being treated for the virus after becoming infected from an Ebola patient who had been repatriated from Liberia – the country most badly hit by the disease with 2,316 confirmed or suspected deaths.
The number of deaths attributed to the Ebola outbreak has risen above 4,000, the World Health Organization says. The latest figures show there have been 4,024 confirmed or suspected deaths in the worst-affected West African nations of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
Eight deaths are linked to the haemorrhagic fever in Senegal and one in the US.
In total, there have been 8,399 confirmed or suspected cases, mostly in West Africa.
- La Nacion: Costa Rica no está preparada para enfrentar el ébola, dice presidente del Colegio de Médicos
- Anxiety grows in US after death of Texas Ebola patient
- Here’s how a hospital builds an Ebola-proof room
- Brazil says it has a suspected Ebola case