BVI News

Screening for measles at local ports of entry impractical, says health officials

Despite a major outbreak of measles worldwide this year, health officials have said surveillance for the virus at major ports of entry would not be a practical measure for the territory.

Chief Medical Officer in the Ministry of Health Dr Irad Potter said it would be “very difficult to control a disease at our border”.

“There is a heightened vigilance in the healthcare providers. We’ve sent information to public and private providers but to actually say that you are going to police the ports of entry; it is not such a practical thing to try to do because the return in the investment is not a recommended approach … The recommended approach is to ensure that the native population who are here improve their vaccination coverage,” Dr Potter said.

He further said measles presents symptoms almost like the common cold and a person can be infected and not know they are sick.

“When we had the pandemic influenza, many countries tried to do things like checking people’s temperature and various things but it is always better to do your best to ensure that your population is protected,” he explained.

Disease protocol for cruise ships

While there are no active border surveillance measures in the BVI for measles, Dr Potter noted the protocols cruise ships must follow before entering the territory.

These protocols are the only real border-related measures that act as a safeguard from diseases or viruses.

“Twenty-four hours before the ships come, they send to the Health Department a list of anyone who is ill on the ship. And if they don’t send that list, automatically they know they can’t come. That’s a normal part of what they are required internationally to do,” Dr Potter said.

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