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Epidemic Swiss prepare for handling potential Ebola cases

A Nigerian health official takes the temperature of a worker in the arrivals hall of a Nigerian airport

(Keystone)

Switzerland has drawn up guidelines for dealing with potential cases of Ebola within its borders following the World Health Organization’s (WHO) declaration of Ebola as an international emergency on Friday. Only up to two cases are expected here.

If international health care personnel from Switzerland were to be infected, they would be returned to Geneva using the necessary safety precautions, says Daniel Koch, head of the Infectious Diseases department of the Federal Health Officeexternal link.

“We are expecting very, very few cases, however,” he told Swiss public radio, RTS. “One or at most two, but not more.”

Humanitarian health workers are aware of the precautions they must take to avoid becoming infected, Koch said.

There are no plans to check people on incoming flights from countries with Ebola infections when they arrive in Switzerland, according to Koch, as those passengers are subjected to controls before they board their flights, in line with WHO recommendations.

The risk of infection for other passengers is very limited, Koch told public television, SRF.

Direct contact

Since March 2014, Ebola has infected at least 1,700 people in the West African countries of Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.

Almost 1,000 people have died from the infectious disease, which is spread through direct contact with bodily fluids and can cause fever, vomiting, internal bleeding, diarrhea and severe dehydration.

Because there is no proven cure for Ebola and no vaccine to prevent infection, treatment focuses on alleviating symptoms. People with Ebola should be kept in isolation for 30 days.

Declaring a state of emergency allows WHO to take measures worldwide to prevent the spread of the disease. Among other things this could include closing borders to countries or limiting international travel.

swissinfo.ch and agencies


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