Categorized | National News

Customs Officers Fear Ebola Outbreak

The Ebola outbreak has claimed the lives of more than 1,000 people in Africa since February and as the number of cases continues to mount, the Bahamas Customs Immigration and Allied Workers Union’s (BCIAWU) Executive Vice President Coderro Edgecombe called on the government to put measures in place to protect the officers who are at the forefront of the country’s boarders and most vulnerable to encountering the deadly virus.

“We need to have a serious discussion about everyone in all these units having proper care and proper procedures and protocols on how we deal with this, why are officers still behind the belt of Bahamas Immigration and Customs department without mask at this time, why are they behind the belt now without gloves, without any protective wear or gear,” he asked.

“You may have officers that may take it upon themselves and do it but why hasn’t the government put something in place to do this, we have flights that are coming in from Britain, West Africa have direct flights to London and even more scarier than that, Haiti has flights from places we don’t even know where from, we have vessels coming in from Port-au-Prince daily in droves, clearing in at Great Inagua and you don’t even know where the people on those vessels come from most of them are Haitians but not all and I’m not taking hear say, I’ve actually seen when the Indians come through, the Chinese or anybody else whose trying to find another way into The Bahamas other than the expensive flights.

He added that their work as immigration and custom officers must not be taken lightly.

“The threat in West Africa, the Ebola virus which is not curable, it’s a flesh eating bacteria, who do you think is going to be the first person in The Bahamas to come into contact with the Ebola virus,” he asked.

“It’s going to be custom and immigration officers, don’t trivialise our lives whatever your impression is of any arm of this law enforcement unit, we’re here to not only enforce laws but to protect the citizens of this country which leave us totally vulnerable.”

Ministry of Health officials recently warned residents to avoid travelling to West Africa unless absolutely necessary.

Earlier this month the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared an Ebola virus outbreak an international emergency given the high mortality rate caused.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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