At least two Nigerians students have been “quarantined” and will be “repatriated” after they arrived in St. Vincent this week without medical certificates proving that they are not infected with the deadly Ebola virus, which has killed 2,811 persons in Africa, according to Centers for Disease Control (CDC) figures.
The Ebola virus disease or Ebola hemorrhagic fever is a disease of humans and other primates caused by an ebolavirus.
Symptoms start two days to three weeks after contracting the virus, with a fever, sore throat, muscle pain and headaches.
Typically, vomiting, diarrhea and rash follow, along with decreased functioning of the liver and kidneys. Around this time, affected people may begin to bleed both within the body and externally.
Half of all the persons infected in the current outbreak have died.
“… because the students are from Nigeria, there are certain provisions that are put in place for entry, because there has not been an outright restriction,” Chief Immigration Officer Stanford Hamilton told journalist Jerry S. George in an interview on Tuesday.
The Ministry of Health announced on Sept. 1 that to prevent the entry of the Ebola into St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) persons who have visited Guinea, Sierra Leone or Liberia during a a 28-day period before their arrival in SVG, will be denied entry.
Persons travelling who had travelled to Nigeria or any other West African country or those who visited any of the aforementioned countries during a 28-day period must present upon entry a negative blood test result for Ebola (done not more than 7 days before leaving their home country to come to SVG), the ministry said.
There are several Nigerian students enrolled at medical school in SVG.
Hamilton said that two of the Nigerian students who arrived in the country had medical certificates but the others did not.
He said the students without the medical certificate were “quarantined in care of the school and have been visited by the Ministry of Health”.
The students were enrolled at All Saints University, “along with other universities,” he said.
Hamilton said the students were quarantined at an isolated apartment at the school and were visited there by the Ministry of Health, and will remain there until until a flight is available for them to be repatriated, or until they are tested for the virus.
“Based on the decisions, there have been discussions with the Ministry of Health in terms of a monitoring system. So, that monitoring system is in place, and there is, of course, 18 to 21 days in which they will make the observation. If by that time the all-clear is given to the Ministry of Health, if no flight is given by that time, they may be granted to stay,” Hamilton said.
He said officials will be working with airline to see how soon the students can be repatriated.
Asked if international protocols allow for the students to be “put back into the system” even as their Ebola status is unknown, Hamilton said:
“We all have concerns. Once you understand how the migration process work, you can’t just pick up a person and say go back on this plane, because there are some procedures that you have to go through.”
He said he was aware that a captain of an aircraft can deny boarding to such students.
“I am aware of that and that is why all of the institutions that are part of looking into this issue are doing what we can do to ensure that the persons are isolated sufficiently and they are being examined,” he said.
The CDC said there has been eight Ebola deaths in Nigeria since the latest outbreak began six months ago.
There have been 20 suspected cases in the country, 19 of which have been confirmed.
The CDC says that Ebola only spreads when people are sick. A patient must have symptoms to spread the disease to others. After 21 days, if an exposed person does not develop symptoms, they will not become sick with Ebola.
(See the infographic for more information on Ebola and the outbreak in West Africa.)