ISLAMABAD - Fearing the threat and potential spread of Ebola virus disease in the country, the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination has called for effective preventative measures to avert deaths from the virus.

Taking notice of unprecedented outbreak of Ebola Virus disease currently speeding in West Africa (Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone) with 746 deaths, Minister for National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination Saira Afzal has asked the provinces to take urgent steps against this virus.

“Although, no case has been reported in the country but the threat and potential for rapid spread in our region remains high due to frequent movement of people between the affected countries related to trade and transit etc,” she said.

Ebola virus disease (EVD) is a severe acute viral illness often characterised by the sudden onset of fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat. This followed by vomiting, diarrhea, rash, impaired kidney and liver function, and in some cases both internal and external bleeding. Though, the disease has a high fatality rate of up to 90 percent, it also depends on the immunity level of a patient, according to health officials.       

For effective prevention of Ebola virus disease, the Ministry has addressed a letter along with the advisory to the chief secretaries of all provinces and relevant stakeholders to take the preventative steps on urgent basis.  In the absence of effective treatment and a human vaccine, raising awareness of the risk factors for Ebola infection and the protective measures is the only way to reduce human infection and death, says the advisory issued by the ministry.

It asks the health officials to create awareness among common people and health practitioners to reduce the risk of human-to-human transmission on the community arising from direct or close contact with infected patients, particularly with their bodily fluids.

“Close physical contacts with Ebola patients should be avoided. Gloves and appropriate personal protective equipment should be worn when taking care of ill patients at home. Regular hand washing is required after visiting Ebola patients in hospital, as well as taking care of patients at home,” it said.