Ebola: Govt issues travel ban as DRC confirms cases

Travellers from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone will not be allowed into the country as the deadly Ebola virus continues to ravage the three West African states.
A health official visits to check on suspected Ebola patients in Liberia. Net photo.
A health official visits to check on suspected Ebola patients in Liberia. Net photo.

Travellers from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone will not be allowed into the country as the deadly Ebola virus continues to ravage the three West African states.

The same also goes for any person found to have a fever of 37.5 degrees Celsius.

The order, issued yesterday by the Ministry of Health, also stated that anyone who has travelled to the three countries in the last 22 days will be stopped from entering Rwanda by any means of transport.

“An exception is only provided for passengers with special authorisation signed by the Minister for Health of the Republic of Rwanda,” reads part of the statement issued by the ministry.

The latest instructions follow reports of confirmation of a different strain of Ebola in DR Congo.

Returning residents will be required to stay at an isolation facility at the border posts for further medical checks and consistent follow up by health professionals.

The ministry also ordered all passengers to go through a screening processes at all border posts.

“No one will be allowed to proceed for clearance unless they have been screened,” it said, and urged people to cooperate and assist in the implementation of existing precautionary measures, including quarantine for 21 days [the incubation period of the disease].

The statement added that surveillance had been strengthened within the community and at all points of entry including all border posts in the country as well as airports.

“Referral hospitals, district hospitals and other health facilities are well equipped and staff have been trained to handle any cases.

“The Ministry of Health, in collaboration with other other concerned institutions, through the national emergency preparedness teams, has put in place actions for preparedness and elaborated plans to prevent any potential health risks of Ebola.”

In a related development, the Sierra Leone parliament last week passed a law making secretly harbouring Ebola patients a criminal offence and, if signed by the president, could see those caught face up to two years in jail.

Although the UN is against travel bans to the affected countries, Ivory Coast, Gabon, Senegal, Cameroon and S. Africa have all sanctioned the bans to contain the disease that has so far killed more than 1,200 people.

Last week, Kenya’s national carrier Kenya Airways suspended its flights to Liberia and Sierra Leone over the Ebola outbreak.

Sources say that governments of the East African Community are close to agreeing on a stronger strategy to regulate travel to and from the affected West African countries.

 

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