Yesterday the Western Cape Department of Health (WC DoH) held a press conference about the readiness of the province to deal with Ebola and presented the isolation ward at Tygerberg Hospital allocated to the treatment of infected patients.

While there are currently no confirmed Ebola cases in South Africa, the WC DoH has put plans in place to manage the virus should a confirmed case be reported in the province.

Tygerberg Hospital has been chosen as the provincial facility dedicated to treating Ebola patients and containing the virus, in conjunction with Communicable Disease Control, Port Health Services and Emergency Medical Services (EMS). It was also announced that 1,200 first responders are being trained to deal with possible Ebola patients and that Groote Schuur Hospital is also equipped to deal with possible Ebola cases if needed.

Tygerberg Hospital’s storage room is filled with plastic protective gear like safety goggles, gloves and gumboots, which will be used to protect health workers if there is an Ebola outbreak. Isolation boxes to treat patients that need to be transported and special body bags are also on hand.

Tygerberg Hospital CEO, Doctor Dimitri Erasmus, said the facility will be the first port of call for Ebola patients. “If there is a situation where there are more than four patients, which we consider highly unlikely, then we do have a contingency plan. We have another ward which is an isolation ward where we deal with infectious cases. That ward will then serve as a backup ward.”

“Containing Ebola patients at Tygerberg is key to halting secondary infections and outbreak,” added Infectious Disease Specialist, Dr Taljaard.

WC DoH Minister of Health, Theuns Botha, said he will be meeting with national health ministry officials to discuss a comprehensive Ebola reaction plan.

“I think it’s inevitable we will have an Ebola outbreak in our country. I hope we don’t but we need to be prepared,” said Minister Botha. “The bottom line is that there are no cases yet but we are prepared, so don’t panic. Be assured, we will inform you of our preparedness and we’ll do what we can to resolve the issue. All South Africans should support the NDoH’s Ebola strategies.”

Nine state hospitals and thousands of health workers are being prepared to deal with a potential outbreak of the highly infectious disease.

Since March, more than 4,500 people have died from Ebola in West African countries, with Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea reporting the most casualties.

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