JIS News

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  • Acting Director, Emergency, Disaster Preparedness and Special Services at the Ministry of Health, Dr. Sonia Copeland, says the Ministry will be aiming to train 1,000 health care workers as part of the Ebola emergency response.
  • She emphasized that the country is in a state of readiness, as it continues its preparations in response to the Ebola Virus.
  • She pointed out that health care workers “are clearer now in terms of what it is they would be required to do.”

Acting Director, Emergency, Disaster Preparedness and Special Services at the Ministry of Health, Dr. Sonia Copeland, says the Ministry will be aiming to train 1,000 health care workers as part of the Ebola emergency response.

“We hope from that, we will have 200 who have volunteered for the drills and for the simulation exercises that will take place at Up Park Camp,” Dr. Copeland said.

She emphasized that the country is in a state of readiness, as it continues its preparations in response to the Ebola Virus.

Dr. Copeland was speaking at a media sensitization forum on Ebola, held on October 30 at the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) offices, at the University of the West Indies, Mona campus.

She pointed out that health care workers “are clearer now in terms of what it is they would be required to do.”

“They wanted to be reassured as well, that everything will be done for their staff welfare and of course for their infection control protection,” she added.

The Acting Director also informed that the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) will be assisting in preparing the isolation areas, in terms of infrastructural work that is to be done to the facilities.

Dr. Copeland said that discussions are underway with the Jamaica Fire Brigade for the movement of suspected Ebola victims. In terms of burial of the dead, she noted that the preferred option for Jamaica will be cremation.

“So, we are going to need a consultation now with the churches and the wider communities to really let them hear that this is our preferred option,” she added.

The Acting Director said that consultations have already been held with the owners of funeral homes and morgues.

For his part, Director of Health Services at the Ministry of Health, Dr. Lundie Richards, also reiterated the Ministry’s position that cremation would be the preferred option for burial of the dead.

“The ideal situation would be to have a crematorium at the point where you have your Ebola treatment site, because you want to manipulate the remains or the medical waste as least as possible. We however respect norms, especially with our African heritage,” Dr. Richards said.

“We are in discussion in establishing a framework, so that we could have quick cremation. What is important is that there will be absolutely no storage of remains anywhere. So, you would be talking about a very quick turn- around, whether it’s actually putting it in the ground or sending it to the crematorium,” he added.

Meanwhile, Information Minister, Senator the Hon. Sandrea Falconer, said  the media have an important role to play in keeping the country informed about the Ebola virus.

“You need to have an informed basis on which to operate and on which to report. It is important that you have a very constructive working relationship and a good working relationship with the national response team to the Ebola preparations,” Senator Falconer said.

She noted that the media would have a very important plank if Jamaica were to have a case of the Ebola virus in the country.

“Any effective communication strategy that the Government will have is going to be dependent on you and we are going to need your cooperation in whatever we do,” she added.

Ebola, formerly known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever, is a viral illness that is often severe and fatal in humans. According to the World Health Organisation, the initial symptoms include fever, weakness, muscle pain and sore throat, all of which can be overlooked as symptoms of common illnesses.

However, as the virus spreads through the body the symptoms become more acute and include vomiting, diarrhoea and in some cases both internal and external bleeding.

Ebola has an incubation period between infection and symptoms, of two to 21 days.