Measures in Place for Ebola Outbreak

The Ministry of Health’s Department of Communicable Disease Control (CDC) has selected five hospitals across the country to quarantine anyone suffering from the Ebola virus should there be an outbreak in Cambodia, its deputy director said Friday.

The capital’s Calmette Hospital, plus five other hospitals in Siem Reap, Kompong Cham, Kampot and Stung Treng provinces have been designated to treat anyone who contracts the deadly disease, said Ly Sovann, deputy director of the CDC, at the “Ebola and Public Health Risks in Cambodia” luncheon organized by the American Chamber of Commerce in Phnom Penh.

Specialists have also been selected to treat people infected with Ebola, he said. “We have 2,008 people in the CDC who have trained in how to conduct primary investigations and we have experience in responding to epidemics,” Dr. Sovann said.

“[From those] there will be more specific training for 10 committed to respond when we take people suspected to have Ebola,” he added. “We need to find somebody who can really do this because it can be really dangerous.”

Dr. Sovann said there would also be medical screenings of Cambodian peacekeeping forces when they return from African nations. “We are waiting for the troops to come back [from Africa] and we will work closely with the Ministry of Defense to coordinate their return and monitor their health,” he said.

Despite listing some of the CDC’s potential limits in dealing with an outbreak, including a lack of equipment when dealing with infected patients, the country’s recent history of dealing with disease outbreaks is encouraging, Dr. Sovann said.

“We were zero prepared for SARS. We built from this and we are better prepared but we need to do more. If every country prepares, we will contain this,” he said, also noting what he said was the government’s effective response to outbreaks of avian flu in recent years.

Cambodia recorded 26 cases of bird flu in humans last year, 12 of which proved fatal, the worst year for the country since the virus was first found in poultry here in 2004.

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