In response to a possible Ebola threat situation the Falkland Islands government is focusing on prevention at this time but with good contingency plans also being laid down as a back up to a possible outbreak.
In a short release with the background and instructions on the issue, FIG said that the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) and King Edward VII Memorial Hospital (KEMH) are constantly reviewing the situation, and plans will be reviewed and altered according to the perceived level of threat to our country.
The CMO has been in discussion with the Ministry of Defense at Mount Pleasant and contingency plans have been drawn up as to how to deal with a suspected case of Ebola in the Falklands.
As part of this contingency plan it has been decided by the CMO that all shipping vessels leaving a country with a ‘high’ level of Ebola transmission (currently only Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone) will be refused clearance at our ports and any vessel seeking to enter would be isolated until 21 days after their departure from the West African country in question.
This control measure will be reviewed regularly, and altered accordingly in line with the WHO guidance on the risk within countries.
The threat of the virus arriving via airport routes is not impossible, but it is extremely low. It must be stressed you cannot catch Ebola through social contact or by travelling on a plane with someone who is infected, without direct contact with the blood or body fluids of an infected person.
It is also important to note that a person who is infected with Ebola is not contagious until they have a fever and start to become unwell.
Summing up, the overall risk of Ebola to the Falkland Islands population is extremely low.
Ebola is difficult to catch and can only be transmitted via the body fluids of an infected individual who is unwell (i.e. fever, vomiting, bleeding etc). Contingency plans are in place to deal with patients suspected of having Ebola who travel to the Falkland Islands and ships who have visited ‘high risk’ countries will be refused clearance in the Falkland Islands until 21 days have elapsed since visiting the high-risk port.