SA issues travel ban to Ebola countries

Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF) medical staff members wearing protective clothing work at the MSF facility in Kailahun, on August 14, 2014

South Africa has imposed a travel ban to and from the worst affected Ebola countries.

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi announced the travel ban and stricter screening at a press conference in Pretoria on Thursday afternoon.

“We have banned citizens from travelling from Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia except if it is absolutely essential,” he said.

South Africans in these countries can return home but will be submitted to an extensive medical questionnaire and if need be an examination.

Motsoaledi said South Africa has been categorized as a low risk for Ebola. Nigeria, which has had cases of Ebola, and Kenya are medium risk countries.

“We implemented the ban to assure SADEC [Southern African Development Community] because most people travel through our country,” he added.

He announced that an Inter-ministerial Committee has been set up to deal with logistics and problems relating to Ebola. A hotline between the private sector and the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) has been set up.

The minister said they have  started training personnel to deal with possible cases of the virus.

Motsoaledi again reiterated that there have been no cases of Ebola in South Africa.

Motsoaledi added that while there is no penalty for travelling to these high risk countries, travellers might not be allowed to enter South Africa again if they don’t have a comprehensive medical history.

“We request South Africans to delay travelling to these countries,” he said.

Passengers would have to get written permission from the Department of Home Affairs or the Department of Health.

Almost 1300 people have died from Ebola, mostly in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.



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