World Bulletin/News Desk
Guinea has declared a public health emergency over an Ebola epidemic that has killed more than 1,000 people in three West African states and is sending health workers to all affected border points, a government official said.
Guinea says its outbreak is under control with the numbers of new cases falling, but the measures are needed to prevent fresh infection from neighbouring countries hit by the epidemic.
"Trucks full of health materials and carrying health personnel are going to all the border points with Liberia and Sierra Leone," Aboubacar Sidiki Diakité, president of Guinea's Ebola commission, said late on Wednesday.
As many as 3,000 people are waiting at 17 border points for a green light to enter the country, he said.
"Any who are sick will be immediately isolated. People will be followed up on. We can't take the risk of letting everyone through without checks," he said.
Sierra Leone has declared Ebola a national emergency as has Liberia, which is hoping that two of its doctors diagnosed with Ebola can start treatment with some of the limited supply of experimental drug ZMapp.
Nigeria too has declared a national emergency, though it has so far escaped the levels of infection seen in the three other countries. On Thursday, it said it had 10 cases of Ebola. Four Nigerians have died of the disease.
JUST ONE VEHICLE
Health experts say government responses to the disease need to be calibrated to prevent its spread while avoiding measures that could induce panic or damage economies unnecessarily.
That task is harder because health services have been stretched to breaking point and mistrust of health workers among some rural communities is high.
In addition, 170 healthcare workers have been infected and 81 have died among the overall toll of 1,069, according to the World Health Organisation.
A Liberian government document seen by Reuters shows the strain on its health ministry as it confronts the emergency.
"The case investigation team only has one vehicle so they can't get out and then there's the issue of no space at the ETU (Ebola Treatment Unit) to bring patients," it said.
Ebola is one of the world's most deadly diseases and kills the majority of those infected. Its symptoms include internal and external bleeding, diarrhoea and vomiting.
Ebola also bears economic ramifications for some West African states as disruption to commerce, transport and borders lasts at least another month, said Matt Robinson, a vice president at Moody's ratings agency.
Sierra Leone's growth would slow from the 16 percent rate recorded in 2013 if mining sector production is affected, he said, adding that regional health budgets could rise.
There is also "an indirect effect arising from an Ebola-induced economic slowdown on government revenue generation in a region where budgets are already hindered by low tax collection," he said.
Fewer passengers are arriving at Ivory Coast's main airport from Freetown, Conakry and Monrovia because of the virus leading to a shortfall of about 4,000 passengers a month, Abdoulaye Coulibaly, chairman of Air Cote d'Ivoire, told Reuters.
Ivory Coast and its eastern neighbour Ghana have recorded no cases of Ebola. Ghana's government said it would step up its funding for preventative health and impose a moratorium on international conferences for three months as a precaution.
Beyond the immediate impact, Africa faces a problem of perception over Ebola even though many countries are remote geographically, economically and culturally from those suffering the outbreak in a corner of the continent.
Kenya Airways said it will continue its flights to Monrovia and Freetown. Kenyan Transport Minister Michael Kamau told a news conference the Korean Air decision may have been based on a WHO statement that Kenya should be classed as high risk of Ebola because of those direct flights.
"The statement by WHO yesterday was regrettable. It was retracted," he said. There was no immediate comment from WHO.
.Güncelleme Tarihi: 14 Ağustos 2014, 22:42