Discussions regarding the safe disposal of waste arising from any possible incident involving the Ebola virus disease (EVD) in Ireland took place at the final meeting of the viral haemorrhagic fever (VHF) preparedness subgroup, according to minutes seen by this newspaper under Freedom of Information law.
The subgroup has not met since that meeting, which was held in December 2018, a Department of Health spokesperson told the Medical Independent (MI).
The spokesperson added that further meetings were “deemed unnecessary as the HSE has significantly progressed its work in this area, which has been folded into the work of the health threats coordination group”.
“The discussions [at the December meeting] relate to the safe disposal of any waste that might arise in relation to a repatriation scenario or a more significant event relating to Ebola, such as a reported case or cases at an airport,” the spokesperson told MI.
“The primary focus of the HSE has been the appropriate disposal of waste in relation to a repatriation event – significant progress has been made in the identification of an appropriate solution in relation to such a scenario.
“It should be noted that the World Health Organisation and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control have indicated that the overall risk of introduction and further spread of the Ebola virus within the EU/EEA remains very low.”
Last month MI reported that the HSE was completing its preparation to tender for applications for handling EVD waste in Ireland. The HSE’s Emergency Management Service 2019 Operational Plan states that the Executive would be moving towards a “complete procurement process for disposal of EVD contaminated waste”.
Meanwhile, the Department spokesperson said there is “no specific policy being developed in relation to the Ebola vaccine”.
“The Department is currently in the process of developing policy proposals in relation to the delivery of public health and a policy framework in relation to addressing communicable diseases – this is the appropriate vehicle for looking at the broader issues of access to vaccines (licensed or unlicensed), particularly in the case of public health emergencies or repatriation cases from Democratic Republic of the Congo or similar scenarios.”