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DA urges government to act on Ebola

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South Africa urgently needs a code of practice for health officials to deal with any possible outbreak of the Ebola virus disease (EVD), the DA said on Monday.

“Without a code of practice, health officials across the country do not have national guidelines to mitigate a possible medical emergency arising from EVD,” Democratic Alliance MP Wilmot James said in a statement.

He called on Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi to urgently gazette such a code.

The World Health Organisation has declared the Ebola outbreak in west Africa an international public health emergency.

To date, the outbreak has killed well over 900 people in the region. There is no licensed vaccine for the disease.

James said Motsoaledi should update regulations by listing Ebola specifically as a notifiable disease, and introduce a regulation specifying “how a corpse infected with EVD is to be handled”.

Among other things, guidelines in the code of practice needed to include instructions on the management of waste and quarantine wards, as well as the cleaning, disinfecting, sanitising and sterilising of ambulances, health care facilities, beds, isolation facilities and operating theatres.

“In light of the declaration made by the WHO to internationally co-ordinate efforts to mitigate the spread of EVD, we reiterate our call for a National Ebola Task Team, comprised of recognised experts such as those at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases, as well as relevant government officials, to ensure we comply with international standards and best practices,” James said. SAPA

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