Tobago is far advanced in its readiness to take on the deadly Ebola disease.
According to County Medical Officer of Health (CMOH) Dr Vishwanath Partapsingh, first response staff at the ports of entry and health facilities are currently being trained to handle suspected cases. In addition there are isolation facilities to treat cases if needed.
He said the World Health Organisation (WHO) has supplied Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for use by staff. He was speaking at a media briefing on Tuesday (21st October) following a two-hour meeting of the Tobago Ebola Prevention, Information and Response Team (TEPIRT) and the Chairman of the National Ebola Prevention, Information and Response Team Brigadier General Philip Anthony-Spencer, acting Chief of Defence Staff.
Dr Partapsingh said Ebola cases in Tobago will be sent to the national treatment and containment centre at the Caura Hospital in Trinidad, but the logistics of transfers are currently being worked out.
He said he was comfortable with the system where advanced manifests with information about crews and passengers are provided by both aircraft and sea-going vessels. This helps with response time in dealing with suspected cases of Ebola.
Tobago Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) acting Director Allan Stewart said TEMA has a portable isolation containment system and a 12-bed shelter which can also be used while four rooms are reserved at the Scarborough General Hospital to treat cases. He added that the shelter and the protective gear used by staff can be decontaminated and sanitised for reuse.
“We have the capability to respond once you have well-trained staff,” Stewart stressed. Tema has begun training on the proper use of appropriate gear for front-line staff who may have to interface with Ebola victims.
The Tobago plan also includes public education and awareness.