South Africa 3.7.2014 08:20 am

Ebola outbreak: SA need not panic

PHOTO: AFP

PHOTO: AFP

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) said there was no immediate cause for South Africans to panic over the outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus, which has killed hundreds of people recently in West Africa.

Director of communicable diseases at the Department of Health Dr Frew Benson said they were monitoring the outbreak daily.

“There is no need for hysteria. It is not contracted through the air; it can only be contracted from bodily fluids,” he said.

“The outbreak is not new. It’s been five months now. We have informed all our port officials, and screening takes place at OR Tambo where body temperatures are taken.”

The NICD said in a paper on the outbreak released earlier this week it was extremely important that public and private practitioners in South Africa be on the lookout for ill individuals who had travelled to high-risk areas. Port officials should be on the lookout for health workers from these areas who showed signs of fever.

The NICD concluded that the recent outbreak in West Africa was likely because of inadequate treatment facilities, insufficient human resources and, in some areas, persistent community resistance to instituting preventive measures.

Lucille Blumberg, deputy director of the NICD, said the risk to travellers was very low: “You need to be in direct contact with an infected person but healthcare workers should be aware.”

Since last December, 467 people have died and 759 more cases of Ebola were reported in West Africa.

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