YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — Health authorities in Armenia have installed fever detectors at the national border crossings, trained medical personnel and provided them with protective equipment in an effort to contain a possible spread of Ebola into the country.
No cases of the deadly virus have been registered in Armenia so far, and officials in Yerevan say that the likelihood of that happening soon is very low. They point to the absence of direct communication with west Africa, the epicenter of the latest Ebola outbreak, and tropical animals transmitting the disease. The Armenian government banned imports of animals from Africa in August.
“In any case, we will not have a major outbreak,” said Liana Torosian, a senior official from the government’s National Center for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDCP). “This is our forecast.”
Nevertheless, the authorities in Yerevan are not taking chances. The Armenian Healthy Ministry began last week a mandatory screening of individuals arriving in the country for fever, a possible early symptom of Ebola. Special devices were installed at Yerevan’s Zvartnots airport and six other Armenian border crossings for that purpose.
Ministry officials say that medics deployed there have already detected several persons with a high body temperature. But none of them has tested positive for Ebola.
The ministry has also organized a series of workshops for health workers on how to respond to Ebola cases. Among them were doctors and nurses from Yerevan’s Nork hospital specializing in treatment of acute infectious diseases.
Ara Asoyan, Armenia’s chief epidemiologist managing the hospital, said on Tuesday that they are now prepared to treat Ebola patients. “Our staff has long dealt with various epidemics such as swine flu and anthrax,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “They are now ready for Ebola.”
Asoyan said that the hospital has 15 specially insulated wards that can treat up to 60 patients infected with Ebola or other life-threatening diseases. Medics working there as well as officials at Zvartnots and Armenia’s border crossings with Georgia and Iran have also received protection suits and other equipment designed for dealing with Ebola cases, he said. Their preventive measures against Ebola are being coordinated with the NCDCP, added the official.