Hospitals here move to step up anti-virus measures
A GROWING number of hospital emergency departments have now put up public notices in English and French asking patients who have returned in the last three weeks from Ebola-outbreak countries to immediately notify staff if they have a fever.
The patients, who may have been in Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia or Nigeria, where the killer virus has caused over 1,000 deaths, would then need to be examined in a separate room with staff wearing protective clothing.
The extra precautions come despite health authorities saying the risk of the case in Ireland remains very low. The Health Service Executive (HSE) said yesterday there was no confirmed or suspected case.
It followed early morning claims by the online website TheJournal.ie which headlined a story "First suspected case of Ebola in Ireland." It said a patient suspected of having the Ebola virus was being treated in a Dublin hospital and was considered for transfer to the Mater Hospital which has special infectious disease isolation facilities.
The HSE later issued a statement denying any patient was under investigation. The website's editor Susan Daly said the reporting was accurate at all times and it initially received information from unofficial sources. "All along we have said the patient was located in another Dublin hospital, that at one point it was being considered that he be transferred to the Mater," she said.
A spokeswoman for Beaumont Hospital, where it is believed a man who had not been in one of the Ebola-outbreak countries was examined, said she could not comment on grounds of patient confidentiality.
Dr Mark Doyle, an emergency consultant in Waterford Regional Hospital, said emergency departments have received a lot of guidelines on how to react in a suspected Ebola case.
"You can have people presenting from the relevant countries and they may have a fever. They must be managed in the initial phases as if they could have Ebola."
Dr Doyle, who is spokesman for emergency consultants, said his own hospital had a lot of meetings with infectious disease experts.
"We have identified an area away from the mainstream departments where they can be assessed.
"We have been getting the protective equipment and practising how to put it on and take it off," he said.