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Ben Gurion Airport holds Ebola drill

Officials challenged to identify travelers suspected of carrying deadly disease; PM orders increased measures against outbreak

Israeli forces take part in a Ebola identification training exercise at Ben Gurion International Airport outside Tel Aviv on October 17, 2014, Officials and employees from the Population Immigration and Border Authority, airlines, the Magen David Adom emergency medical services, the Health Ministry and the police participated in the drill, aimed at identifying travelers who could potentially have contracted the virulent disease. (Photo credit: Kobi Gideon/GPO)
Israeli forces take part in a Ebola identification training exercise at Ben Gurion International Airport outside Tel Aviv on October 17, 2014, Officials and employees from the Population Immigration and Border Authority, airlines, the Magen David Adom emergency medical services, the Health Ministry and the police participated in the drill, aimed at identifying travelers who could potentially have contracted the virulent disease. (Photo credit: Kobi Gideon/GPO)

Israeli officials conducted an Ebola identification training exercise Friday at Ben Gurion International Airport outside Tel Aviv.

Officials and employees from the Population Immigration and Border Authority, airlines, the Magen David Adom emergency medical services, the Health Ministry and the police participated in the drill, aimed at identifying travelers who could potentially have contracted the virulent disease.

As part of the exercise, officials were challenged to identify potential patients when they positively answer routine questions about their health and travel. All three of the “patients” were indeed picked out.

As part of the drill, officials administered first aid and evacuated anybody with a high temperature — and who arrived from countries where the Ebola virus is active — to the Sheba Medical Center, near Tel Aviv, according to a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office.

A meeting of top Health Ministry officials decided this week that should any Ebola cases be detected in Israel, they will be quarantined and treated either at Sheba or at the Rambam Medical Center in Haifa.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a conference call Thursday to review the exercise procedures with Health Minister, Yael German; Health Ministry director, Prof. Arnon Afek; and director general of Ben Gurion Airport, Shmuel Zakai.

Netanyahu ordered increased preparations at all points of entry into the country, including taking the temperature of travelers arriving from affected areas in West Africa.

The move came after several people outside of West Africa, where the disease has claimed thousands of victims in the past several months, have become infected with the disease.

Two American health-care workers at a Dallas, Texas, hospital have been diagnosed with Ebola after caring for a Liberian man who died of the disease last week. US President Barack Obama’s administration has shifted into overdrive in efforts to contain the spread of the disease, instituting increased measures at several major US airports aimed at identifying potentially infected travelers.

A nurse in Spain last week became the first person known to catch Ebola outside the outbreak zone in West Africa. She had been part of a team that treated two missionaries flown home to Spain after becoming infected with Ebola in West Africa. The nurse’s only symptom was a fever, but the infection was confirmed by two tests, Spanish health officials said. She was being treated in isolation, while authorities drew up a list of people she had had contact with.

The Israeli ambassador to the UN, Ron Prosor, told UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday that Israel will open two emergency clinics in Liberia and Sierre Leone and send an aid team to operate the clinics and train local personnel.

“The international community and Israel in particular have the tools and know-how to help communities affected by Ebola,” Prosor added. “Together, we can overcome this crisis.”

News agencies contributed to this report.

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