African countries on alert over DR Congo Ebola outbreak

NAIROBI — African countries, including Rwanda, Uganda, Ghana, Kenya and Nigeria, have heightened surveillance measures at borders following an outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo).

Rwanda has kicked off new screening measures at its official border posts with DR Congo in order to detect the virus.

Anyone entering Rwanda via official border posts with the DR Congo in Rubavu and Rusizi districts will go through temperature screening procedures, said a statement released by the Rwanda ministry of health on Friday.

Uganda’s minister of state for health Sarah Opendi told Xinhua that the country’s National Health Task Force has been reactivated.

She said health workers in Uganda’s western border districts have been put on alert to monitor people coming in from DR Congo.

“We have written to all District Health Officers to increase on surveillance, raise public awareness and alert the people about the Ebola outbreak” in DR Congo, said Opendi.

In Ghana, the Ghana Health Service (GHS) on Friday issued an alert on the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), calling on regional directors to enhance their preparedness.

A statement issued by Dr. Anthony Nsiah-Asare, Director General of the GHS, asked the directors to strengthen their surveillance for early detection and response, update preparedness and response plans in districts and regions and ensure the availability of holding places.

Kenya’s Director of Medical Services at the Ministry of Health Jackson Kioko said the government has reactivated the rapid response teams for enhanced surveillance and follow up of travelers with elevated body temperatures and asymptomatic cases with history of travel from DR Congo.

“We wish to assure Kenyans that there is no suspected case of Ebola virus in the country and they should remain vigilant, look out for any such illnesses and report to the nearest health facility without delay for immediate verification and investigation,” Kioko said.

Tanzania has dispatched a team of medical experts in six regions in an effort to improve detection and information systems against outbreak of Ebola.

Health authorities in Zambia have also intensified surveillance in areas bordering DR Congo. Minister of Health Chitalu Chilufya said the government has put in place intervention measures to ensure that the disease does not enter Zambia.

All airports are currently screening all people entering the country for Ebola while protective equipment have been distributed, Chilufya added.

Nigeria’s Minister of Health Isaac Adewole has advised health care providers and members of the public to report any sign of illness to public health officials.

DR Congo’s health ministry on Friday confirmed the outbreak of an Ebola epidemic in its northern region. Local authorities said three deaths have been reported among nine suspected cases of the Ebola virus since April 22. (Xinhua)