Friday, May 18, 2018

Ebola Outbreak: Botswana Issues Travel Alert to DRC
Southern Times
By Mpho Tebele

Gaborone - Botswana has issued a travel advisory informing its citizens not to travel to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) following confirmation of 17 Ebola virus-related deaths and 21 suspected cases in that country last week.

Giving reasons why it was not safe for her compatriots to travel to DRC, the Director of Health services Dr Khumo Seipone said Ebola is a highly contagious and virulent disease that currently has no cure.

She warned that the disease can be transmitted via human contact with the body fluids of an infected person and is fatal.

“Ministry of Health and Wellness advises the public to avoid or postpone travel to the DRC, especially affected provinces in the DRC. Travellers are further advised to take all the necessary precautions,” said Seipone.

 She said her ministry would continue to monitor the situation at all levels and will update the public as the epidemic unfolds.

 According to Seipone, symptoms of Ebola virus disease include a fever of acute onset (37.5oC) with unexplained bleeding tendencies from the nose (epistasis), gums, vagina, skin or eyes, bloody stools, vomiting and coughing blood, diarrhoea, deterioration of vision or decreased consciousness.

Meanwhile, the public relations officer in the same ministry, Doreen Motshegwa, said their health officials are on high alert and have put measures in place to ward off the spread of the Ebola outbreak in the DRC.

Motshegwa said following the outbreak of the deadly Ebola in the DRC, her ministry has put measures in place at points of entry.

She said the government will increase surveillance at points of entry and has already put in place rapid response teams and port health officers to detect any Ebola threats. It is the ninth time Ebola outbreak that has been recorded in the DRC, whose eastern Ebola river gave the deadly virus its name when it was discovered there in the 1970s, and the outbreak comes less than a year after one that killed eight people.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) said it was preparing for the “worst case scenario”, as it responds to the Ebola outbreak in the DRC.

It added that it also considered the risk of the Ebola epidemic spreading high, though current cases are limited to the Bikoro region in the Equateur province, a pretty remote area of the country.

Reports also indicate that 32 people are suspected to have been infected with Ebola viral disease, including three health care workers. Eighteen of those who have died, including a health care worker.

But WHO advised against any restriction of travel and trade to the Democratic Republic of the Congo based on the currently available information. WHO noted that it continues to monitor travel and trade measures in relation to this event, and currently there are no restrictions on international traffic in place.

Currently, WHO said it considers the public health risk to be high at the national level, moderate at the regional level and low at the international level.

“As further information becomes available, the risk assessment will be reviewed. At present, this event does not meet the criteria of a public health event of international concern,” who said. 

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