Egypt registers first-half primary surplus of EGP 3.2 billion    ITFC approves $2.6 billion financing for Egypt    Hitachi to connect Gulf of Suez wind farm with Egypt national power grid    Egypt works on charting cooperation strategies with international institutions for 5 years: Al-Mashat    Maha karara joins AAIB as Head of Corporate Communications, Sustainability    Over 2.4 million newborns examined for hearing impairment: Health Ministry    Netflix releases trailer of Arab adaption of 'Perfect Strangers' film    Balqees to headline concert celebrating launch of streaming giant LIVENow in MENA    Sawsan Badr to be honoured at Aswan Women Film Festival    Al-Sisi follows up on 'Great Transfiguration Project' in St. Catherine    Cairo, London stress need to strengthen cooperation to face climate change    Foreigners account for 22.6% of Egypt's T-bills issuances in 1H 2021: CBE    MP Abdel Hady Al-Qasby calls government to facilitate and support NGOs    Egypt's ambassador to Italy passes away    Egypt confirms readiness to help African countries face terrorism and extremism    An estimated 235 million people needed humanitarian assistance and protection in 2021, an increase of 40% compared to 2020: IOM Egypt    Egypt, DRC discuss water cooperation during WYF    Egypt, DR Congo discuss boosting bilateral cooperation during WYF    Cameroonian police probe assault on three Algerian journalists covering AFCON    Pharaohs start AFCON 2021 campaign with fierce clash against Nigeria    Foreign Ministry opens capacity building course for French-speaking African diplomats    BRICS development bank admits Egypt as new member    Nermien Ismail Schools opens a new campus in O'West    Netherlands Embassy, E7kky Magazine celebrate success of 21 Egyptian women    Women make up 45% of Egyptian Atomic Energy Authority staff    Yas Island hosts travel partners at Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 2021    Olaf Scholz becomes Germany's new leader, ending Merkel 16-year historic era    Egypt's trade with Nile basin countries climbs 26% y-o-y in 9 months    The unvaccinated prohibited from entry to Egypt state institutions starting December 1    Egypt's iron and steel exports jump 197% in 8 months    Ethiopia halts work at its embassy in Egypt for 'economic reasons'    It's a bit frustrating to draw at home: Real Madrid keeper after Villarreal game    Russia says it's in sync with US, China, Pakistan on Taliban    Shoukry reviews with Guterres Egypt's efforts to achieve SDGs, promote human rights    Sudan says countries must cooperate on vaccines    Johnson & Johnson: Second shot boosts antibodies and protection against COVID-19    Egypt to tax bloggers, YouTubers    Egypt's FM asserts importance of stability in Libya, holding elections as scheduled    Brazil calls up 8 EPL players for World Cup qualifying    We mustn't lose touch: Muller after Bayern win in Bundesliga    Egypt records 36 new deaths from Covid-19, highest since mid June    Egypt sells $3 bln US-dollar dominated eurobonds    Sisi calls on House, Senate to commence second legislative sessions on 3, 5 October    Gamal Hanafy's ceramic exhibition at Gezira Arts Centre is a must go    Italian Institute Director Davide Scalmani presents activities of the Cairo Institute for ITALIANA.IT platform    Qa'a play showing at Lycee El Horreya Theatre, Alexandria is a must go    On International Museum Day, Egypt opens two new museums at Cairo Airport    Old Cairo's Al-Fustat will be revamped on Egyptian President's directives    

Thank you for reporting!
This image will be automatically disabled when it gets reported by several people.

Banned from entry
Published in Al-Ahram Weekly on 07 - 05 - 2009

At airports and seaports, the authorities are ready with contingency plans to ensure swine flu does not get past them. Amirah Ibrahim reports
On Monday, Elizabeth, an Austrian tourist who landed in Hurghada Airport, was suspected of having swine flu after suffering from high fever. She was sent to a hospital for medical tests and was kept under observation for 24 hours. The Health Ministry on Tuesday gave Elizabeth a clean bill of health and she was released after being treated for the common flu.
Elizabeth was just one of a number of passengers suspected of carrying the swine flu virus, but all have been proven free of the germ.
At Cairo International Airport, Egypt's main gateway, masked faces of customs and immigration officers have been receiving arrivals at TB1, TB2 and the newly opened TB3 terminals.
As they pass through, passengers are stopped by a medical team of doctors and technicians who keep one eye on the passengers' general health. The other eye runs through passports in search of a previous entrance visa to any of the reportedly infected countries.
"The passenger is questioned for a few minutes to test his health and see whether he or she is suffering from fever, vomiting or other symptoms," said Dr Hassan Shaaban, head of the central department of Cairo International's quarantine unit.
Additional counters have been set up for medical teams who temporarily joined the airport quarantine unit. Shaaban says the Health Ministry has provided Cairo International with an additional 50 doctors, 40 nurses and 60 technicians.
Health authorities have already started converting the Heliopolis mental hospital, located near the airport, into a quarantine unit. Patients have been moved to Abbasiya hospital while the one in Heliopolis is being readied at present to receive suspected cases to carry out blood tests and for medical surveillance.
In addition to Cairo International, aviation authorities have set up quarantine centres in five high- traffic international airports in Hurghada, Sharm El-Sheikh, Alexandria, Luxor and Aswan.
Scanning passengers coming from African countries poses a particular problem for quarantine doctors who may be unable to identify swine flu cases swiftly enough to prevent the spread of infection because of the many diseases with similar symptoms.
"We are overwhelmed with tuberculosis, pneumonia and malaria, all of which present similar symptoms to swine flu. The problem is identifying swine flu when so many people are sick with similar fever- causing illnesses," Mustafa Rifaai, a medical technician at Cairo International's quarantine unit, said.
Cairo International is still studying the possibility of equipping its terminals with thermal scanners but which would take at least a month to install.
When the arrival of a British Airways flight was announced over the airport's intercom system, the medical staff, immigration officers and custom officers swung into action, putting on their masks to their mouths.
Kate, 24, and her two sisters said they were comforted by the thought of visiting "a country that is still clear of swine flu."
"I do not think travellers should change their plans unless there are strong warnings by WHO," said Kate who, along with her sisters, were masked.
"Doctors have not examined us. I think because we do not look sick, do we?"
Four flights arrived during the following hour -- from Kuwait, Athens, Istanbul and Lagos. No exceptional procedures were taken and only a few passengers were subjected to a medical examination.
In the wake of the outbreak of swine flu, international travel authorities have refused to impose restrictions on travel. Some countries have introduced new immigration regulations committing passengers to state which countries they visited six days before entering any other nation.
"Influenza can be transmitted at home among family members, in shopping malls, on the street, in buses or in aircraft," says Sherif Galal, chairman of EgyptAir airlines which operates more than 200 daily flights on domestic and international routes. "WHO figures show that between 250,000 and 500,000 people die every year from flu infections. The WHO has not identified any specific risks from air travel.
"So far, we have no intention of cutting routes or reducing flight frequencies. We do not operate flights to Mexico, and we do not see a need to interrupt the network with such procedures," Galal added.
Along with general guidelines for dealing with public health emergencies, guide material from the International Aviation Transport Authority (IATA) covers maintenance, passenger agents, cabin crews, cleaning crews and cargo.
Galal said IATA had provided guidelines for cabin crews when facing a suspected case of communicable disease on board.
"A communicable disease is suspected when a traveller has a fever (temperature 38�C/100�F or greater) associated with one or more of the flu symptoms such as persistent coughing, impaired breathing, persistent diarrhoea and or vomiting and appearing obviously unwell," Galal said.
He added that airlines had provided its cabin crews with, among other things, gloves and masks to help deal with sick passengers.
"Suspected passengers onboard flights are to be relocated in a more isolated area if space is available. One cabin crew member is designated to look after a sick traveller. When possible, the crew designates a specific lavatory for the exclusive use of the sick traveller. If the sick traveller is coughing, the crew will require that the passenger wear a surgical mask or put a tissue over his or her mouth and nose. The captain is then informed who in turn reports the suspected cases to air traffic control and to advise the destination station that cleaning and disinfection will be required," Galal added.
If H1N1 reaches a sixth alert level, said Galal, medical tests will be imposed on all passengers before they come to Egypt, at the expense of EgyptAir.
Similar guidelines have been provided to travel agents about suspected cases of communicable diseases at the airport which are reported to supervisors.
"Passengers should be reassured that aircraft are regularly disinfected even in regular operations. Modern aircraft have very advanced air filtration systems which ensure a high level of air quality despite the confined environment," Galal said.
Crews who carry out maintenance on an arriving aircraft with a suspected case of communicable disease are requested by WHO to be careful in dealing with High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters.
"About 50 per cent of the air in most modern aircraft is re-circulated" said Abdel-Aziz Fadel, chairman of EgyptAir's maintenance and engineering. "Technicians should wear disposable gloves while replacing HEPA filters of an infected plane, avoid hitting, dropping or shaking the filter and are not to use compressed air to try and clean a filter," Fadel said.
Fadel indicated that the entire national carrier's fleet is equipped with HEPA filters.

Clic here to read the story from its source.