Woman sparks brief Ebola scare for Singapore

Woman sparks brief Ebola scare for Singapore
Drill at airport: Workers in protective gear attending to a mock Ebola patient, in an exercise to demonstrate Singapore's defence against highly infectious diseases, at Changi Airport's Terminal 2 yesterday.

SINGAPORE - Singapore remains on alert for Ebola after a brief scare yesterday, which saw a woman who had flown here from Nigeria put into isolation.

The false alarm was triggered when the woman, in her 50s, went to Gleneagles Hospital for a minor procedure. A physical check found that she had a fever and she was isolated immediately.

Staff dealing with her donned full protective equipment to guard against infection.

As the woman had flown in from Nigeria - one of four African countries which has seen an outbreak of the potentially fatal disease - just a few days earlier, the hospital contacted the Ministry of Health (MOH), which advised it to send the woman to the Communicable Diseases Centre at Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH).

After less than 90 minutes at Gleneagles, she was transferred by ambulance to TTSH where she was later discharged after it was confirmed that she did not have the potentially fatal disease.

TTSH chief executive Philip Choo told The Straits Times that "unfortunately for now, there will be many more (cases) like this as the triage trigger is rather blunt".

He was referring to the lack of specific symptoms for the viral infection, which has a mortality rate of close to 90 per cent.

Victims generally have fever, headache, joint and muscle ache, diarrhoea and vomiting.

The World Health Organisation said close to 2,000 have been diagnosed with the disease in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.

An MOH spokesman yesterday confirmed that there were no Ebola cases in Singapore.

He said: "The case in question was indeed referred to Tan Tock Seng Hospital, but she does not fit the case definition.

"MOH will continue to closely monitor the situation, and continually assess and calibrate its measures."

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