Africa & Asia Deploy Infrared Scanners At Airports To Detect Ebola Symptoms

Bangkok, Thailand –?? Asian nations are using thermal imaging cameras and posting doctors at airports to screen out sick travelers as health authorities scramble to avert any outbreak of the Ebola virus that has killed almost 1,000 people in West Africa.

Health officials in Thailand, which received a record 26.5 million tourists last year, are monitoring 21 visitors from Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea. The officials said they had no plans to quarantine the visitors.

“They are free to move but we are checking in on them frequently,” said Opart Karnkawinpong, a disease control official at Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health.

“We have surveillance cameras in place at major entry points and doctors at international airports to supplement existing teams.”

In China, there were no reports of Ebola cases but hospitals have been told to report any suspected cases.

India, which has nearly 45,000 citizens living and working in the four affected countries, said it would screen travelers passing through, or starting journeys there, when they returned.

“The surveillance system would be geared up to track these travellers for four weeks and detect them early, in case they develop symptoms,” Health Minister Harsh Vardhan told parliament on last Wednesday.

Japan is ready to send suspected Ebola victims to special isolation hospitals, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference.

In Australia, authorities said they had not taken extra steps but airports were on alert for sick travelers, saying the risk of the disease reaching the country was “very low”.

Officials in Singapore said the city state, praised for its tough measures against the SARS outbreak that claimed 33 lives in 2003, also faced only a low threat from the Ebola virus.

“Measures are already in place to carry out contact tracing and quarantine all close contacts if there is a case,” the health ministry said.

In Thailand, health official Opart said the 21 travelers would stay under observation for the entire incubation period, which can last up to 21 days.

“Even though Ebola is only a small risk to Thailand we are not taking any chances,” he said.

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RANGOON, Burma ??? Passengers arriving at Burma???s international airports are being checked for signs they have the deadly Ebola virus, an official said, as authorities around the world attempt to prevent an outbreak of the disease in West Africa from spreading.

Doctors and health administrators were appointed last week to carry out checks, involving infrared thermal scanning, according to Kyaw Kan Kaung, the deputy director of the Center for Infectious Diseases in Burma, which oversees the airport health administration.

Ebola has never been found in Burma, and the Ministry of Health has quashed recent rumors that a boy in Arakan State had contracted the virus.

The virus is most likely to enter the country via the airports, said Kyaw Kan Kaung. Rangoon International Airport is the largest point of access into Burma, with about 20 international airlines flying routes to the city.

Checks are also being carried out at Burma???s two other international airports, Mandalay and Naypyidaw, he said.

Since last week, other Southeast Asian countries including Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines have also been screening international travelers for Ebola.

Airports Company South Africa (Acsa) says new thermal scanning machines can detect if passengers have high fevers.

It is working with the health department and the Civil Aviation Authority to ensure South African airports are protected from the Ebola virus.

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Acsa’s Unathi Batyashe-Fillis says South Africa???s various airports have implemented various strategies to protect travelers.

“The people and custodians who managed that are the Department of Health and Safety and they would be best placed to speak about the thermal scanners. At OR Tambo we have thermal scanners that are managed by Port Health which is a subsidiary of the Department of Health.”

The virus has claimed the lives of over 1200 so far.

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WINDHOEK, Aug 21 (BERNAMA-NNN-NAMPA) — The Ministry of Health and Social Services (MoHSS) has started using one of four infrared hand scanners to screen people for symptoms of Ebola at the Hosea Kutako International Airport in the Namibian capital, Windhoek.

The scanners were acquired through the World Health Organisation (WHO), said Namibia Airport Company communications officer Dan Kamati in a statement issued here Wednesday.

The remaining three scanners will be used at the Eros, Walvis Bay and Ondangwa airports.

“We will continue to liaise with the Ministry of Health to ensure that we are ready for this deadly virus at our airports. The big thermal scanners are still in the process of being procured by the ministry through the WHO,” he added.

The Ebola virus disease (EVD) broke out in Guinea in December 2013, but was not detected until March 2014.

It has since spread to other West African countries such as Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.

The WHO has recorded a total of 2,473 suspected cases and 1,350 deaths due to Ebola as of Aug 18, 2014.

Between 19 and 20 August 2014, a total of 142 new cases of Ebola virus disease (laboratory-confirmed, probable, and suspect cases) as well as 77 deaths were reported from Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone . Source: Who website.