Egypt’s quarantine teams to examine travelers from E Guinea after Marburg outbreak

Amr Kandil , Monday 20 Feb 2023

Egypt’s quarantine teams will examine all passengers and crews traveling from Equatorial Guinea to Egyptian airports and entry points after the deadly Marburg virus killed nine in the first-ever outbreak in the Central African country.

File Photo: Egyptian Quarantine Authority employees prepare to scan body temperatures of incoming travellers at Cairo International Airport. AFP


The Ministry of Health and Population’s preventive sector ordered the new measures in a letter to its health directorates circulated by media on Sunday.

The quarantine teams should examine anyone arriving directly or indirectly from Equatorial Guinea before they are allowed to enter Egypt, the preventive sector said.

Travellers should be examined by thermal screening tools, the preventive sector said, stressing that the quarantine teams should not interfere with the passengers’ movement at the entry points.

The medical teams in charge of examinations should take maximum infection control precautions while dealing with passengers who are suspected of carrying the Marburg virus, the letter warned.

Suspected cases should be transferred to fever or specified hospitals, the letter said, adding that health directorates, preventive sector and the ministry’s General Quarantine Administration should be informed immediately.

Vehicles carrying suspected cases should be disinfected, while waste from the vehicle should be considered hazardous and disposed of safely under the supervision of the quarantine authorities.

The health authorities will also issue health surveillance cards to travelers from Equatorial Guinea, including children, in order to allow the authorities to monitor them in their residence for 21 days from the day of arrival.

The ministry urged the health quarantine divisions to spread awareness among travelers to Equatorial Guinea about how Marburg spreads and how to avoid infection.

On Friday, Spokesman of the Ministry of Health Hossam Abdel-Ghaffar said no Marburg cases have been detected in Egypt, affirming constant communication with the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The ministry has intensified preparedness at the quarantine spots in the entry points and raised awareness among medical teams in public and private hospitals on the virus, Abdel-Ghaffar said, adding that a guide to combat the virus was distributed to medical workers.

Last week, WHO confirmed the outbreak of the fatal Marburg virus in Equatorial Guinea for the first time, where nine people were killed and 16 suspected cases are still being investigated.

According to WHO, Marburg virus disease (MVD) is not airborne and is transmitted between humans through direct contact with bodily fluids of infected people, including blood. The virus is also transmitted to humans from fruit bats.

Marburg, a lethal cousin of Ebola, has an incubation period of 2-21 days and is often deadly with a fatality rate of around 50 percent, according to WHO.

Outbreaks and sporadic cases of the virus have been reported in Africa’s Angola, DR Congo, Kenya, South Africa and Uganda. In the past outbreaks, Marburg reaped the lives of 24-88 percent of those diagnosed with the decease, said WHO.

People infected with Marburg start developing abrupt symptoms, including high fever, severe diarrhea that can persist for a week and vomiting.

“The appearance of patients at this phase has been described as showing “ghost-like” drawn features, deep-set eyes, expressionless faces and extreme lethargy,” WHO said in 2021.

Fatal Marburg cases usually develop bleeding, often from multiple areas, including in vomitus and feces and from the nose and vagina.

Death due to Marburg infection is usually preceded by severe loss in blood and occurs most often on the eighth or ninth day of the symptoms.

MVD, formerly known as Marburg hemorrhagic fever, was initially detected in 1967 following outbreaks in Germany’s Marburg and Frankfurt and Serbia’s Belgrade.

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