Ebola: Nose masks, gloves for WAEC supervisors, invigilators
The West African Examinations Council (WAEC) will protect supervisors, invigilators and candidates taking its examinations from the Ebola Virus.
Its Head of National Office, Mr Charles Eguridu, spoke of its plans against the dreaded virus yesterday at a news conference in Lagos on the November/December West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE).
Eguridu said supervisors and invigilators would be provided with hand sanitisers, gloves and nose masks. Sick candidates would be discouraged from taking the examination as part of measures to guard against the spread of the Evola Virus Disease (EVD) during the examination.
He said the council has made arrangements for emergency medical services if the need arises.
Eguridu also announced that candidates who are unable to register for the November/December 2014 WASSCE before registration closes on Monday can still sit for the examination at designated walk-in-centres.
He added that candidates who have not pre-registered but wish to take the examination would be registered at zonal/branch offices after paying the N25, 000 fees charged for the service.
“This is the first time ever that an examining body in black Africa will make this facility available. Interested candidates are expected walk into any of the Council’s zonal or branch office, with two passport photographs, in addition to the registration fee N25, 000 only in bank draft, drawn in favour of the West African Examinations Council, not later than the day of the paper they intend to sit,” he said.
The normal registration fee for the examination, which starts Tuesday next week, is N11, 400.
Eguridu said the walk-in centres would be available only in states that host the council’s 12 zonal offices, 19 branch offices and two satellite offices.
Explaining the rationale for the initiative, Eguridu said it would give candidates whose papers are incomplete the opportunity to immediately retake the examination instead of waiting till next year to do so.
He said: “Before now, you will recall that when candidates want to register, we open the portal for registration within a specified period. And at the close of the entry, the can no longer register.
“This innovation makes it possible for those who were not able to register to still do the exam. You just walk into the centre on exam day, they capture your biometrics and you write the exam.”
He added that there would be no centres in the three states that have security challenges.
Justifying the additional cost, which is irrespective of the number of papers the walk-in-candidate sits for, Eguridu said the amount is subsidised.
“This cost is highly subsidised. If we were to charge economic cost, eah candidate will be made to pay about, N60,000-, N70,000. For registered candidates we print materials well ahead of time. But to accommodate walk-in-candidates, we have to prepare for them. And may even record some waste,” he said.
Eguridu assured candidates that the council has taken care to ensure that no errors would arise from the arrangement.
“We have taken cognisance of all difficulties that may arise in the course of this innovation. We assure the walk-in-candidates that there will be no mix up,” he said.
The HNO added that the walk-in-candidate facility would only be available for the Nov/Dec WASSCE, which is designed for private candidates.
Death toll now 1350
The World Health Organisation says the death toll from the Ebola outbreak in West Africa is now at least 1,350 people.
The latest figures yesterday show that the deaths are mounting fastest in Liberia, which now accounts for at least 576 of the deaths.
The U.N. health agency also warned in its announcement that “countries are beginning to experience supply shortages, including fuel, food, and basic supplies.”
This comes after a number of airlines and shipping services have halted transport to the worst affected capitals of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.
In a desperate bid to halt the disease’s spread, authorities in Liberia have quarantined off a huge slum that is home to 50,000 people. Protests erupted in West Point on Wednesday, where residents threw rocks at police.
American hospitals record 68 Ebola scares
American hospitals and state labs have handled at least 68 Ebola scares over the last three weeks, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Hospitals in 27 states alerted the CDC of the possible Ebola cases out of an abundance of caution amid the growing outbreak in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Fifty-eight cases were deemed false alarms after CDC officials spoke with medical professions about patient exposures and symptoms, but blood samples for the remaining 10 were sent to the CDC for testing, the agency told ABC News yesterday.
Seven of the samples tested negative for the virus and results for the remaining three are pending, the agency said.
Once a hospital or state lab notifies the CDC of a possible Ebola case based on travel history and symptoms, CDC officials talk to someone familiar with the suspected patient’s history to determine whether blood testing for the virus is necessary, said CDC spokeswoman Kristen Nordlund. They discuss symptoms and determine whether the patient may have been exposed to the virus. Exposure can happen if the patient is a health care worker, has buried someone with Ebola, has lived in a house with someone who had Ebola or has lived in a place where Ebola is spreading.
“If somebody had traveled to Guinea and came back and had a fever and has never been to a place where Ebola is transmitted, there’s no reason to suspect there’s Ebola just because Ebola is circulating in Guinea,” Nordlund said, explaining that the CDC takes suspected cases seriously but has to narrow them down.
The latest scare to make headlines involves a patient at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Sacramento who “may have been exposed to the Ebola virus,” the hospital said in a statement. The patient has been isolated in a negative pressure room while awaiting blood test results from the CDC.
Two patients are in isolation in U.S. hospitals while officials wait for test results to determine if they have been infected with the Ebola virus.
Officials believe that a woman in New Mexico and an unidentified patient in California are unlikely to have the deadly virus, but the two individuals are being isolated and tested out of an abundance of caution.
The New Mexico patient recently returned from Sierra Leone, where she worked as a teacher and began showing symptoms sometimes associated with the virus, including a fever, sore throat, body aches and headaches. Sierra Leone is one of four West African countries hit by the outbreak that has claimed more than 1,200 lives.
Earlier this week, the 30-year-old woman arrived at the University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque with a fever, sore throat, headache and muscle aches after returning from Sierra Leone, according to the New Mexico Department of Public Health. She is currently in isolation and awaiting test results from the CDC, according to the department.
Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, Johns Hopkins Medicine in Maryland and an undisclosed hospital in Ohio have also tested patients for Ebola over the past several weeks.
The CDC has urged health care providers to ask patients about their travel history to help identify potential Ebola cases.
In a statement, the California Department of Public health called the case “low-risk” and said the person is being tested out of an abundance of caution according to guidelines established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Blood samples from both patients are being sent to the CDC to rule out the presence of Ebola.
Other than two Ebola patients who were flown from West Africa to Atlanta, Ga., for treatment, there have been no confirmed cases of Ebola in the United States.
People infected with Ebola are only contagious once symptoms begin to appear, which can take as long as 21 days. Ebola is contracted through direct contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person, and the World Health Organisation has said that unlike other infectious diseases — such as the flu— Ebola is not transmitted through the air. There is little risk of infection through air travel.
•Additional reports by AFP and ABC News
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