Updated 15 April 2016
The WHO Director-General has now declared the end of the Public Health Emergency of International Concern regarding the Ebola virus disease outbreak in West Africa
In this Spotlight Members and clients will find the latest updates and advices from internal and external resources.
The WHO provides situation reports the latest can be found here http://apps.who.int/ebola/current-situation/ebola-situation-report-16-march-2016
During the last 2 months West African had been EVD (Ebola Virus Disease) free, however, several flare ups of EVD have been reported in recent weeks. These have also been isolated cases in rural communities. On 16 March 2016, health authorities from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone and representatives of partner organizations have expressed confidence in the capacity of the three Ebola-impacted countries to effectively manage residual risks of new Ebola infections—pointing to the rapid government-led containment of recent flare-ups of the disease.
The deadliest Ebola outbreak in recorded history is slowly drawing to a close. The outbreak was unprecedented both in the number of infections (28639), deaths (11,316) and in geographic spread.
The Ebola virus has now hit many countries: predominantly Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia and to a lesser extent Mali.” Significant outbreaks in Nigeria, Mali and isolated incidents in Spain, Senegal, Italy, UK and the US have been contained
According to WHO’s latest Ebola update from 30 March, http://who.int/csr/disease/ebola/en/ the WHO Director-General has now declared the end of the Public Health Emergency of International Concern regarding the Ebola virus disease outbreak in West Africa. According to a WHO statement on 29 March 2016: “in the Committee’s view the Ebola situation in West Africa no longer constitutes a Public Health Emergency of International Concern and the Temporary Recommendations adopted in response should now be terminated. The Committee emphasized that there should be no restrictions on travel and trade with Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, and that any such measures should be lifted immediately.”
While the risks have decreased significantly in regards to EVD, Members should consider the recommendations made in the previous SPOTLIGHT article (repeated below) as general good practice for the general avoidance of any contagious diseases and be incorporated as part of their general housekeeping and operations.
Members and clients are asked to consider the following recommendations and pass such on to their vessels:
Latest WHO advice and recommendation for ships
In case of a passenger presenting with symptoms compatible with EVD (fever, weakness, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, vomiting, diarrhoea, bleeding) on board of a ship, the following precautions must be applied:
In the event of a suspected diagnosis of EVD on a ship, immediate expert medical opinion should be sought and the event must be reported as soon as possible to the next port of call by the Captain.
The patient should disembark in such a way as to avoid any contact with healthy travellers and wearing a surgical mask. Personnel in contact with the patient during the medical evacuation should wear a surgical protection mask and PPE.
The competent authority at port may need to arrange depending on the situation: medical evacuation or special arrangements for disembarkation and hospitalization of the patient and laboratory diagnosis.
Passengers, crew members and cleaning staff who have been identified through contact tracing should be assessed for their specific level of exposure. Passive self-monitoring of temperature (e.g. monitoring temperature only if feeling feverish) and symptoms or active self-monitoring (e.g. by regular temperature measurement twice a day) for those at higher risk level should be continued for 21 days.
At the request of a governmental port health authority, ship operators shall also facilitate obtaining, from some or all passengers, to provide information on their itinerary and their contact details (should they need to be contacted) when there is a particular reason to believe they may have been exposed to infection on board of the ship. Additionally, countries may consider requiring arriving ships to complete and deliver the Maritime Declaration of Health (IHR Annex 8). Measures taken on board should also be noted on the IHR Ship sanitation control certificate (IHR Annex 3)
The complete WHO guidelines for can be found at http://www.who.int/ith/updates/20140421/en/. Section 3.3, as extracted above, covers ships.