Keeping tabs on Ebola virus

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Keeping tabs on Ebola virus

The Ebola scare has hit Korea as the port city of Busan prepares to hold a major international conference. More than 3,000 government officials from 193 countries are expected to attend the 2014 International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Plenipotentiary Conference from Oct. 20 to Nov. 7.

The guest list includes 35 people from hot spots of the Ebola outbreak - Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Another 100 will come from Nigeria, Senegal and Congo, where new cases were last found in September. Health authorities have prepared isolated hospital beds in case patients are found and have also set up a task force. Quarantine officials will be stationed at the conference site. But these measures alone cannot calm public concerns.

Authorities must come up with an effective quarantine control system to block the epidemic that has killed more than 4,000 people. The virus is contracted through physical contact with blood or other bodily fluids from infected people or animals and has a fatality rate of 70 percent.

All government offices, including the Ministry of Health and Welfare and the Ministry of Security and Public Administration, must form a network and cooperate in order to exchange information and act fast, based on scientific and professional judgment, if the disease appears. One ministry must be in charge to command emergency responses.

Customs checks must also be strengthened. Airport authorities should not only check the temperature of all passengers, but conduct thorough examinations of visitors from Ebola danger zones.

Health authorities also should keep tabs on these visitors during their stay without annoying or distressing them.

Medical authorities should be ready to act quickly and safely if infected people are found. Protection kits and equipment as well as medical experts must be ready so that the disease cannot spread. The contamination routes and responses to Ebola are already well-known and studied. We should not worry if we are thoroughly prepared and vigilant in our response.

JoongAng Ilbo, Oct. 15, Page 34

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