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Rwanda Screens Arrivals From Ebola-Hit Countries: US and Spain

Wednesday, 22 Oct 2014 09:21 AM

An Ebola-free nation seeking to prevent the spread of the virus said today it would require arrivals from two countries with known cases to report to authorities every day for three weeks.

The country doing the requiring: Rwanda. The countries whose visitors face the reporting requirement: Spain and the U.S., some of whose embassy personnel are affected.

“We are doing this as a precautionary measure to prevent the spread of the virus,” Nathan Mugume, head of Rwanda’s Health Communication Centre, said by phone from Kigali, the capital yesterday. While no one is being stopped from entering the country, “we advise people who have traveled to the affected countries to report their health on the hour or daily and they can get help in case of any Ebola-like symptoms.”

With 49 of 54 nations in sub-Saharan Africa untouched by the deadly disease, public-health officials across the continent have implemented monitoring and screening procedures to keep it out. The disease has killed more than 4,500 people in the three hardest hit countries in West Africa since December.

Zambia has put heat scanners at airports and started a public information campaign about symptoms via text message and newspaper ads. Zimbabwe requires those from the three African countries hardest-hit by Ebola -- Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone -- to be quarantined for 21 days. Travelers are checked at airports and border crossings. In South Africa, all arriving passengers are subject to examination with temperature scanners and must fill out a form about their travel and health.

Five Airports

U.S.-arriving passengers from the three infected west African countries will be directed through five airports where enhanced health screenings can be conducted, the Department of Homeland Security said yesterday. Texas Governor Rick Perry has called for a travel ban on people from those countries after one Liberian patient died in Dallas and two health-care workers contracted the disease.

The Rwanda announcement comes a day after the World Health Organization declared Nigeria Ebola-free, with no new cases since Sept. 8. Senegal was certified free of the virus last week. Rwanda has already said it reserves the right to deny visitors from Sierra Leone, Guinea or Liberia from entering the country.

Rwanda, the east African nation that this year marked 20 years since a genocide that killed 800,000, also requires visitors to complete a detailed questionnaire about whether they have any symptoms of illness and saying where they have traveled in the past 22 days.

Spreading Panic

“I don’t think it’s going to make a difference one way or another,” Craig Klugman, chair of the Department of Health Sciences at DePaul University, said on the phone from Chicago, chuckling, yesterday. “There is no Ebola outbreak in the United States. There is a panic going on. A lot of it is fed by the media, a lot of it is fed by politicians calling for drastic measures like ceasing flights to western Africa.”

The U.S. Embassy in Kigali -- about 3,000 miles from Guinea -- is already feeling the effects of the Rwanda announcement. “A number” of staff and private U.S. citizens are following the procedures, Public Affairs Officer Roger Webb said by phone.

“Ebola is a concern for everyone,” he said from Kigali yesterday. “We recognize Rwanda’s right to enforce regulation and policy to protect their citizens.”

 

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An Ebola-free nation seeking to prevent the spread of the virus said today it would require arrivals from two countries with known cases to report to authorities every day for three weeks.The country doing the requiring: Rwanda. The countries whose visitors face the...
rwanda, screens, ebola, countries, spain, us
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2014-21-22
Wednesday, 22 Oct 2014 09:21 AM
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