Parliamentary Secretary Chris Fearne said today that while the risk of Ebola coming to Malta was very low, he was satisfied with the preparations which were being made by the Health Department and all stakeholders.

He told a press conference that preparations were being made on two levels - to test 'at risk' persons and to protect society while offering best treatment for anyone who could be infected.

The preparations, he said, were in line with the recommendations of the World Health Association and other bodies, and they were being constantly updated. Doctors and stakeholders, such as the airport and customs, were being constantly informed.

Dr Fearne stressed that Ebola was not easily contagious. One did not contract the virus just by sitting next to another person on an aircraft, but by bodily secretions, sexual contact or infected blood

The incubation period was between two and 21 days, which meant the biggest threat was not from those who came to Malta by boat - such as migrants - but those who travelled by plane.

Preparations had been made to screen any people remotely suspected of being ill and those who came from the areas where the virus had been reported.

So far the authorities had been informed of one Maltese who had arrived from Sierra Leone. Although he bore no symptoms, he was screened as a precaution. Tests proved negative, but he is being monitored daily, as an added precaution. 

Anyone knowing of people coming from infected areas should contact the authorities.

A helpline has been set up with number 21324086.

Dr Michael Borg, head of the Infections Control Department at Mater Dei explained that two rooms within his department had been prepared for the treatment of patients. Mater Dei had been selected because that was the best level of care could be provided in a secure environment with no  danger to society, he said.

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