Greek Hospital On Ebola Standby

A Greek public hospital is being fitted to handle Ebola cases if the virus hits and medical teams are being sent to key border entry points.

ATHENS – A public hospital is being fitted to handle Ebola cases if the deadly virus hits the country and medical teams are being dispatched to key entry points on the border – Greece is a main destination for illegal immigrants, many from Africa – to try to contain the disease if it strikes.

No plans for screening travelers for the deadly virus were announced after a meeting between Health Ministry officials with experts from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (KEELPNO) and the National Health Operations Center (EKEPY).

But it was decided that visitors traveling from high-risk countries would be asked to fill in a questionnaire aimed at helping authorities filter out high-risk cases although doctors have said people could be carrying the disease during an incubation period and not know they have it.

“There is no reason to be particularly worried about Ebola in Greece if we are well prepared,” the Health Ministry’s General Secretary Christina Papanikolaou told SKAI before the meeting.

Posters have already been placed in Greek airports providing information, in Greek as well as in English, about the Ebola virus, with fears growing around the world as little has been done to contain it in Africa, where it broke out. KEELPNO has issued a warning against travel in Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Nigeria.

Greece is the first choice for up to 90 percent of illegal immigrants who try to get into the country for asylum or to head to other European Union countries which are more tolerant.

The disease, which has no proven cure, has killed nearly 4,000 people in West Africa, more than half of them in Liberia. It has also reached the United States, Spain and, possibly, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and the Czech Republic, although that wasn’t confirmed.

Authorities in Skopje were investigating after a 56-year-old Briton died of “Ebola-like symptoms” in the country’s capital on Oct. 9 as worry is mounting that the disease could spread in Europe.