Minister Wael Abu Faour speaks during a press conference in Beirut, Monday, Oct. 20, 2014. (The Daily Star/Dalati Nohra, HO)
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The health minister warned Monday that Lebanon faces an "imminent danger" posed by Ebola due to the country's expat community in West Africa, and gave big private hospitals a three-week deadline to prepare quarantine units.Wael Abu Faour pledged to build isolation chambers in the country's major public hospitals and detailed for the first time tight measures imposed in air and seaports as well as surveillance of travelers from nations affected by the deadly virus. But he also said hospitals and medical staff in Lebanon were ill-equipped and mostly untrained in the necessary protocols in handling suspected Ebola patients, promising to train health care workers. In addition, since Ebola symptoms can take up to 21 days to appear, individuals arriving from affected areas have to provide contact details to the Lebanese authorities and ministry staff will contact them on a regular basis to check for symptoms, Abu Faour said.Abu Faour also ordered that all private hospitals with over 100 beds prepare a quarantine unit to hold potential or suspected Ebola patients. There are 24 such hospitals throughout Lebanon. Abu Faour said the biggest challenge is training medical staff in identifying and handling Ebola cases, many of whom lack the knowledge to receive such patients.
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