South Africa not implementing Ebola travel ban
By Estelle Vosloo
Reported on Independent Online South Africa will not be imposing a travel ban on arrivals from western African countries affected by the recent outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus.
While Zambia reacted to the news of the Ebola outbreak by banning travellers from the affected countries from entering their country the South African government has announced that it will instead beef-up precautionary measures.
After the World Health Organization confirmed that about 1,070 people have been infected by, what is being described as the largest outbreak of the Ebola virus, Joe Maila spokesperson for the South African Ministry of Health on Sunday said, “The World Health Organisation (WHO) has not recommended any travel or trade restrictions and we are guided by that. However, we will continue to monitor the situation in West Africa and screen people entering South Africa.”
The WHO has said in an official statement that “there should be no general ban on international travel or trade on affected countries”.
Zambia’s minister of health, Joseph Katema, announced on the weekend that, “All delegates from any of the countries affected by Ebola are restricted from entering Zambia until further notice.”
Zambia is now the second country after Ghana to restrict traveling to and from affected countries.
“We are watching everything, the developments around Ebola, with keen interest and taking the necessary precautions,” said Minister Maila yesterday.
“As we go along, we will see what other measures will be taken,” he added that, “Since the outbreak (of Ebola), we have been ensuring that people coming from there are checked. The screening becomes our priority.
“There is no case of Ebola in South Africa and, therefore, South Africans should not panic,” confirmed Maila.
“Our view is that if they can postpone, the better. You can’t just go (there) on holidays,” said Maila referring to travellers planning to visit affected countries.
Meanwhile the SA Civil Aviation Authority (Sacaa) spokesperson Kabelo Ledwaba spoke about the industry’s preparedness for Ebola,“Sacaa has legislation in place that ensures that there is an aviation-specific pandemic preparedness plan in order to deal with any outbreak.
“South Africa is capable of dealing with communicable diseases.
“Sacaa has identified airports that could be regarded as ‘high risk’. These are OR Tambo International, Lanseria, Cape Town International, King Shaka International and Kruger Mpumalanga International.
“All these airports have an airports emergency plan for communicable diseases.
“As part of its oversight role, Sacaa uses a master surveillance plan for airports and airlines. In addition, Sacaa has identified and intensified its oversight auditing and training activities for airlines and aviation operators flying to and from West Africa.
“The national Department of Health has thermal scanners at some local airports. Types of screening procedures that can be used by airport authorities include questionnaires, visual inspection and thermal scanners.
“In addition, some airports have quarantine rooms for isolated cases,” concluded Ledwaba.