Ebola: Govt may consider travel ban to affected countries

As more countries step up measures to prevent the spread of Ebola, including travel bans to affected countries, Rwanda government is also considering similar action, even though the United Nations said there was no need for travel restrictions.

As more countries step up measures to prevent the spread of Ebola, including travel bans to affected countries, Rwanda government is also considering similar action, even though the United Nations said there was no need for travel restrictions.

But the Minister of Health Dr Agnes Binagwaho, told Sunday Times that the government has an obligation to protect its citizens and was constantly monitoring the situation in Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea; and will not hesitate to take action if the situation necessitates a travel ban.

Nigeria, that has also reported some deaths due to Ebola in the past few weeks, is not much of a concern because the spread of the disease has been contained, the minister said. 

Several African countries have defied World Health Organization (WHO) advice and have restricted movement to and from the three countries. 

Kenya’s national carrier Kenya Airways on Tuesday suspended flights to Liberia and Sierra Leone.

“We too are going to take the same route because the epidemic is getting out of control in those three countries. Protecting the lives of our citizens is the first duty of our government and, that is why we are here,” Binagwaho said. Currently, travelers to Rwanda with suspicious symptoms virus, are quarantined until the disease’s incubation period elapses and health officials are reassured that there is no risk.

“Within our means and our good collaboration between institutions, we have done the maximum to make the Rwandan people safe,” said the minister.

A source at the East African Community (EAC) Secretariat told this newspaper that the five member states – Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda, were considering a meeting of health ministers to hammer out a joint stand on the matter of travel bans to in a bid to safeguard the region’s 141.1 million people.

Rwanda has five police officers serving as peacekeepers in Liberia and the Inspector General of Police, Emmanuel Gasana, says they are safe. This follows reports that the Philippines had withdrawn its 115 peacekeepers from Liberia.

Latest figures released by WHO on Friday show that Ebola has killed 1,427 people out of 2,615 known cases identified since the outbreak was first reported in Guinea in March.

 

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