Via the MSF Ebola blog, a post by American pharmacist Kimberly Larkins: Safety first. Excerpt:
I know how much Ebola has been in the media lately and one of the questions I’m asked by friends and family is how do I protect myself from Ebola…?
The mission I am on is not handling Ebola patients at this time so our risk is different. Our risk comes from interacting with people who might be sick but just at the beginning of their illness when they could have fever but feel pretty well otherwise so they are working.
Since we can’t “see” who has Ebola, we monitor temperatures for everyone who enters the compound to help identify if someone has a fever. I dress in my normal mission clothes (MSF t-shirt, cargo pants and boots) and no PPE (personal protective equipment). Additionally, all Expats monitor their temperature twice daily.
Our protection comes from multiple angles… no touch, give space, wash often. Pretty simple but strictly enforced… all of them… all the time… for everyone. No touch means no touch. The reason we avoid touch is simply to avoid the exchange of body fluids such as sweat (it is very hot here in Liberia).
Nothing more to say there except to avoid touching, people give others space to move, ideally keeping a 1.5 meter distance from each other. This one is a bit more difficult in reality but we do try to make it happen. On the stairs someone steps aside to let the other pass. Chairs are moved a comfortable distance apart during meals and meetings. All of this helps avoid exchange of fluids such as that little bit of spit that might escape while you talk. Oh, we also don’t share drinks or silverware but that’s common sense.
The last protection are the many, many, many hand washing stations around the compound filled with 0.05% chlorinated water. As I stand in the doorway of my house I can see nine stations.
I wash my hands and arms constantly throughout the day and certainly after I have had accidental contact with another person. All of the Expats and national staff do the same thing and we encourage each other to do it.
One of the sayings here is that “if you don’t know what to do, wash your hands”… and that buys a few seconds to remember what you were supposed to do anyway. I keep hand sanitizer (70% alcohol) in my pocket on the off chance I can’t get to a washing station quickly.