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S. Africa bars tourists from Ebola-hit countries

Source:Xinhua

Updated: 2014-08-22

CAPE TOWN, Aug. 21 (Xinhua) -- The South African government on Thursday announced a total travel ban for all non-citizens travelling from Ebola high risk countries, unless the travel is considered absolutely essential.

The ban applies to travellers from high risk countries -- Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, Health Ministry spokesperson Joe Maila said.

The government listed Nigeria, Kenya and Ethiopia as medium risk countries.

For these countries, the normal surveillance that has been going on will just be enhanced, Maila said.

"Please note that some of these countries like Kenya and Ethiopia have no Ebola yet, but are mentioned here because most people travelling from West Africa to South Africa travel via these (high risk) countries," Maila said.

All other countries excluding the above are regarded as low risk countries.

For citizens of South Africa who wish to travel to Ebola-hit countries, they will be requested to delay their travel unless it is also absolutely essential for them to travel, Maila said.

For South African citizens returning from these countries, they will have to be subjected to a stricter screening process, Maila said.

They will be requested to complete a comprehensive health questionnaire before being allowed entry back into the country.

If the comprehensive medical questionnaire and the temperature screening reveal something, they will have to subject themselves to a complete medical examination, according to Maila.

The decision was made after the South African cabinet met on Wednesday to discuss response to the Ebola threat.

"Cabinet noted with concern the extent of the outbreak and the increase of cases in three of these countries -- Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia over the last week.

Cabinet recognised that even though the outbreak has been limited to these countries in West Africa, the spread to other countries need to be contained, Maila said.

"Cabinet recognized that containing the outbreak at source will be essential and limit the spread and mortality caused by the disease to these particular parts of the world," the spokesperson said.

Up till now, there is no confirmed Ebola case in South Africa.

The country has taken a series of preventive measures, which include enhancing surveillance, distributing guidelines to all hospitals in public and private sectors, designating health facilities for the treatment of patients and deploying personal protective equipment to designated facilities.

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