Security against communicable disease ramping-up - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Security against communicable disease ramping-up

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 by Jolene Toves

Guam - The Guam International Airport Authority and Public Health are in the planning stages of converting Gate 11 to an isolation facility.

Guam is ramping up its security against communicable diseases. Matter of fact just today a meeting was held with airport officials and the Public Health about plans to establish an isolation room. "We are going to look at whether we can ramp up that gate and again not the ideal situation if this gets really serious we may even look into perhaps getting a converted container with self contained waste disposal right there on the tarmac level so that if we have to take somebody of the airplane we take them right to that," said James Gillan.

At this time Guam does not have an isolation room at the point of entry but according to Gillan the Guam Memorial Hospital does have nine isolation beds and Public Health has an additional three isolation rooms at their Southern Health Facility. But having the isolation rooms is not the only key in keeping communicable diseases such as Ebola out of Guam, saying, "It will depends on whether we can identify the patient, the passenger at the point of entry as we see with the one in Texas that patient was not symptomatic at all when he came in and subsequently because there is an incubation period between two and 21 days to become symptomatic."

Aggressive screening and the cooperation of the airlines is key. As the first line of defense, according to Gillan are flight attendants being able to recognize and report passengers who may display flu like symptoms and fever to the pilot so that it may be called in. In terms of the suspected case of Ebola reported in the states, Gillan stresses that there is no cause for its still remote and contracting Ebola is fairly difficult as the disease is transmitted through the transmission of bodily fluid and exposure over periods of time.

"Ebola in a controlled environment and CDC has done some experiments can live up to six hours when you put it in the context of an airport terminal I don't think it would last very long," he said.

Gillan says they are going to prepare a briefing for the governor's senior staff on Monday to ensure that everyone is in support and Guam is ahead of the curve when it comes to communicable diseases such as Ebola. 
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