International SOS advises clients during Ebola outbreak

26 March 2014 ,  —

London, Paris

International SOS is assisting clients in West Africa during the current Ebola outbreak.

Medical personnel are working closely with around 100 client organisations with staff and/or operations in the affected region. Cases have been confirmed or are under investigation in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

International SOS routinely has physicians working on client sites in a number of locations close to where cases have been confirmed.

Staff from Assistance Centres in London and Paris have been contacting organisations to discuss their concerns and the preventative measures they can put in place.

Andre Willemse, International SOS Regional Medical Director for Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone said:

“There is a huge amount of uncertainty at the moment surrounding this outbreak and new information is reaching us on an hourly basis.  A key priority for us is to protect our medical staff as they find themselves in the frontline facing this lethal virus. We also need to be ready to safely manage patients who may have the disease. 

We are working hard to share information sensibly, as it becomes available, with our clients. This will assist organisations who aim to try and mitigate risks for staff and their families. We are offering advice on how our clients’ business operations can continue in the affected areas as much as possible.” 

This is the first time Ebola has been confirmed in Guinea, with early cases suspected to have appeared in February. Ebola is a rare, serious viral disease that infects humans and other primates. It may be transmitted to humans when they eat meat or have other contact with infected animals. Infected people can spread the disease to others, as the virus is present in body fluids such as blood, saliva, and urine.

The disease incubates for 2-21 days before symptoms develop suddenly. Early symptoms of Ebola include fever, headache, muscle pain and weakness. Other symptoms may involve a rash, nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain and diarrhoea. Bleeding occurs in some cases which can lead to shock, massive haemorrhage and death. There is no vaccination against Ebola and no cure for the disease.

Early indications are that it is highly likely that the Zaire strain is responsible for the outbreak. This strain is associated with a fatality rate of up to 90%.

International SOS will hold a webinar on Wednesday, 26 March to discuss the latest developments and is distributing an advisory 'toolkit' to help clients educate individual members on the dangers of the virus.

Detailed information is being made available and will include the following:

• Defer non-essential travel to Guinea until further information is available and the situation is clarified
• Defer non-essential travel to affected areas of Lofa county in Liberia until further information is available and the situation is clarified

For those who are in Guinea and Liberia: 

• Do not visit the affected areas
• Pay strict attention to hygiene
• Avoid hospitals
• Avoid funerals
• Avoid contact with sick people and their bodily fluids

Those considered to be high risk are:

• Healthcare workers
• Family or others caring for sick people
• Family or others managing the bodies of those who have died
• Those attending funerals (as there is often a requirement to wash the body)

Business travellers and expatriates, not involved in these activities, are classed as low risk.

Members are encouraged to contact one of the 27 International SOS Assistance Centres for advice before, during or after travel to any of the affected countries. 


Notes to Editors

About the International SOS Group of Companies

The International SOS Group of Companies is in the business of saving lives, protecting your global workforce from health and security threats. Wherever you are, we deliver customised health, security risk management and wellbeing solutions to fuel your growth and productivity. In the event of extreme weather, an epidemic or a security incident, we provide an immediate response providing peace of mind. Our innovative technology and medical and security expertise focus on prevention, offering real-time, actionable insights and on-the-ground quality delivery. We help protect your people, your organisation's reputation, as well as support your compliance reporting needs. By partnering with us, organisations can fulfil their Duty of Care responsibilities, while empowering business resilience, continuity and sustainability.


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