Over this summer, Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) has spread in several West African countries in an alarming and unprecedented rate. Colleagues of different campus units were alerted by the development during their preparation for the new school year, and the arrival of many non-local students, including some from the affected area.
An email was sent by the Postgraduate Student Office to concerned students in early August, reminding them to watch out for their health condition, and providing them with necessary information about medical services on and around campus and ways to seek help. On 15 August, colleagues of HSEO, SHRLO, SAO, ARRO, PGSO, DST, DENG, IPO, PAO and FMO met to discuss necessary campus preparation against EVD. The main action items included information dissemination to the campus community, providing support to students from the affected area, and review of relevant response procedures.
On 22 August, an all staff and all students email was sent to inform the community about the issue and provide links for further information. Two communication sessions, one in English and one in Cantonese, were delivered on 26 and 28 August, providing latest situation of EVD in West Africa, the risk and preparation at the HKUST campus. The two sessions were videotaped and put on the UST Video Channel for colleagues and students who could not make it to the presentations.
Subsequently, a working level meeting was called, involving relevant colleagues from FMO-Security, FMO-Housekeeping, SHRLO, and SAO, to review existing response procedures of cleaning up blood, bodily fluids and vomit as well as handling of patients with potentially infectious diseases. The updated procedures will provide a basis for unified and coherent response actions when handling cases of potentially serious infectious diseases, such as EVD.
While the situation in West Africa seems to be getting worse, and WHO predicts that it will take months before this wave of EVD epidemic is brought under control, the risk of EVD spreading to countries and regions with developed health care system, such as Hong Kong, and causing further spread of the disease remains very low. However, we must all be prepared. Maintaining good personal and environmental hygiene is always an indispensible cornerstone in safeguarding the health of ourselves and our community.