Ecuador’s Ministry of Public Health has established steps to identify and treat international travelers arriving in the country who may be infected with the Ebola virus. It says that it has set protocols at the international airports in Guayaquil and Quito similar to those at airports in Europe and the U.S.
Pablo Acosta, director of the Ministry’s Department of Epidemiological Surveillance, said that the protocols will be followed not only at airports but also at the country’s major ports and border crossings.
Among the measures announced include the designation of special treatment units at hospitals in Guayaquil and Quito. “First, we will identify arriving travelers we suspect of being infected with Ebola, then transfer them quickly to the hospitals,” Acosta said. He added that only specially trained health care workers will treat the suspected Ebola patients once they are in the hospitals.
“So far we have had no Ebola cases,” Acosta said. “Our goal is to have none in the future but, if we do, to act quickly.”
Public Health Minister Carina Vance said that currently, the main danger of the epidemic is false information and said the government will prosecute those spreading rumors. “To scare the public with bad information is a crime and we will not hesitate to take action against anyone who does this,” she said. Specifically, she referred to a Twitter post about a ficticious Ebola case that was circulating on social networks.
Vance also complained that the Ebola epidemic was being used by political opponents of the government. “Even as political discussion, it is illegal to spread misinformation,” she said. “We are monitoring the situation.”
Vance said that 330 epidemiologists and doctors have trained to handle possible Ebola infections.