17 August 2014

Kenya Bans Travelers From Ebola-Hit West Africa

Photo: USAID Liberia
The U.S. Agency for International Development airlifts medical and emergency supplies.

Kenya has become the latest country to ban passengers from Ebola-hit countries in West Africa. The Kenyan government said the measure applied to anyone who had traveled through Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Kenyan Health Minister James Macharia said Kenya was closing its borders to any travelers coming from the three worst-hit countries, as well as those who had passed through them.

"In the interest of public health the government has decided to temporarily suspend entry into Kenya passengers travelling from or through the three West African countries affected... namely Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia," Macharia said.

The decision has been presented as purely precautionary, because Nairobi airport is a crucial hub for air travel across the continent.

South Korea's national carrier Korean Air stopped flights there earlier this week out of fears over Ebola. The official ban will only come into effect from next Tuesday, when Kenya Airlines has said it will cancel flights to Sierra Leone's capital, Freetown, and Liberia's Monrovia.

Nigeria said on Saturday that it has trained 800 volunteers to help fight Ebola, amid fears that a relatively small-scale outbreak might spread.

Nigeria keeps close eye on patients

Nigerian Health Minister Onyebuchi Chukwu said on Saturday that 12 people so far have tested positive for the virus, including the four who died. Another 189 individuals remain under surveillance in Lagos and six in the eastern town of Enugu.

The disease was brought to Nigeria by a traveler from Liberia, who was in Lagos for a conference and who died after being taken into isolation. It was feared that the virus might have been spread to Enugu by a nurse who had been treating the original patient.

Ebola has killed at lease 1,145 people across West Africa this year in what is the worst-ever recorded outbreak of the disease. The UN World Health Organization has declared an international health emergency and made an appeal for global aid.

Canada this week joined the US in sending supplies of experimental drugs against the virus, although it remains unclear how effective they might be.

rc/av (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)

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