Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 25th 2014 Contents RHONDOR DOWLAT
Now that Ebola has struck closer
to home, with the latest case being
reported in New York City (NYC),
T&T citizens living there now fear
for their lives.
The case has caused alarm among
Trinidadians living in Manhattan,
some a few blocks away from the
Harlem apartment of the patient,
Dr Craig Spencer.
Ebola is spread by direct contact
with the bodily fluids of an infected
Despite the large numbers of trav-
ellers between New York and T&T,
however, T&T will not implement
any ban or quarantine system for
people arriving in the country from
This was the response of Brig
Anthony Phillips-Spencer, head of
the National Ebola Prevention,
Information and Response team
He explained that the latest Ebola
case in NYC was an "incident case"
and not an outbreak.
"There is a procedure by which
a country will implement a travel
restriction and that is if there is
an outbreak of the deadly virus.
The US is not yet at that point.
What we see here is an incident.
"If there is a number of infec-
tions in a given area, then it would
be considered an outbreak and only
then can travel restrictions, bans
and/or quarantines take effect,"
He said the authorities were
closely monitoring the situation,
and added: "We are going to con-
tinue to intensify further. We con-
tinue to improve and refine and
will put out public advisories.
Our focus is also public education
Phillips-Spencer also said NEPIR
had successfully spotted an incom-
ing sea vessel Lauren Foss, which
was on its way to T&T from Congo
which has not had any cases of
There have been 68 cases this
year in the Democratic Republic of
the Congo (DRC), a much bigger
country, which is one of the four
countries in west Africa from which
travel to T&T is banned. T&T
nationals coming from the DRC,
Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia
will have to undergo 21 days of quar-
"What we are doing is screening at
all ports, airport and seaports but
before the actual screening is done,
we are doing scouting, keeping in
touch with airlines and ships before
they even enter the jurisdiction.
"We are finding out who is
onboard, where they are coming
from, how many crew members
The Lauren Foss was due to enter
T&T waters on Wednesday to
change an eight-member crew
which flew in from the US. The ship
was inspected and no risk was
detected so the crew was allowed
to change and the vessel was
allowed to continue its voyage.
"We will continue to refine drills
and operating procedures," Phillips-
He also revealed that T&T would
seek assistance from abroad in
obtaining a level four laboratory
testing facility for the Ebola virus.
"We have had offers and we have
reached out because it is no secret
but here in the region we do not
have a level four lab for testing. The
level four is needed to diagnose
Ebola. We have a level below."
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Police officers stand guard yesterday outside The Gutter bowling alley in Brooklyn's Williamsburg neighbourhood,
New York. Craig Spencer, a Doctors Without Borders physician who recently returned to the city after treating
Ebola patients in west Africa, visited the bowling alley and later tested positive for the disease. He is being treated
at Bellevue Hospital, Manhattan. AP PHOTO
Ebola panic among
Trinis in New York
Speaking with the T&T Guardian
yesterday from her apartment on
125th and Broadway, Manhattan,
Sajida Baksh was worried by the news.
She has lived in Manhattan for the
past 44 years and is a retiree from the
Riverbank State Park, Manhattan,
which is just two blocks away from
"This news has hit home with me
and all I can think about is the
thousands of people, including children,
that frequent the park. I worked there
for years and it is very frightening for
me, as you could say it has reached my
She said she now has to exercise
extreme caution while using public
transport in and around NYC.
She added: "The train is crowded and
you really can't tell what is happening
while in that crowd. I have my car, yes,
but there are times when I have to use
the train or bus. It is frightening to
know that this deadly virus has
reached outside our doors.
"Everyone around me is afraid...
Americans and T&T locals living up
"We pray to God that it does not
reach T&T's shores because I do not
know if T&T is equipped 100 per cent
to handle this Ebola."
Baksh, a Carnival lover, was also
anxious about Carnival 2015, given the
Ebola crisis, and believes the
Government should think carefully
about whether or not it should go on.
She added: "Listen, I love my Carnival
and I plan to come to T&T for Carnival
next year but now that it have this
Ebola crisis I don't think I would dare
come, despite all the precautions and
measures that may be put in place.
"I personally think that there can be
mishaps. Piarco airport will be in a
mess and I don't think they would have
enough resources to personally check
everyone arriving in T&T.
"Carnival is all about revelry, sex,
parties, etc, and it will be one of the
greatest risks for the spread of Ebola
because you have to take into
consideration if people will be truthful
in filling out the health forms, which
would ask origin, and if they have come
in contact with persons who may have
contracted the Ebola virus.
"We cannot take this for granted.
People ought to be truthful on this and
there is a big possibility that they
The US Centers for Disease
Control's Website explains that
viruses and other pathogens that
need bio-safety level (BSL) four
facilities and practices are extremely
dangerous and pose a high risk of
life-threatening disease. The Ebola
virus is one of them.
BSL four facilities provide the
maximum protection and
containment. BSL four practices
include requirements for complete
clothing change before entry, a
shower on exit and decontamination
of all materials before leaving the lab.
People working in such a lab must
wear an air-supplied full-body suit.
Usually, BSL four laboratories are
in separate buildings or a totally
isolated zone with dedicated supply
and exhaust ventilation. Exhaust
streams are filtered through high-
efficiency particulate air (HEPA)
LEVEL FOUR LABS
A SCARED NYC TRINI SPEAKS:
NYC-T&T TRAVEL: THE NUMBERS
An average of 616 passengers
arrive daily on board Caribbean
Airline (CAL) flights from John F
Kennedy International Airport,
New York, according to a CAL
There are four daily CAL flights
with each bringing about 154
American Airlines has two
flights daily to T&T from Miami
International Airport. The AA
representative, however, did not
want to disclose how many
passengers were on each flight,
saying this was for security
On Jet Blue Airlines, there is a
daily flight carrying an average of
150 passengers. Over 5,362 people
arrive at Piarco Airport weekly
from New York City and Miami.
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