World Bulletin/News Desk
South Sudan has stepped up surveillance at entry points following reports of Marburg virus infections in neighboring Uganda and the ongoing Ebola outbreak in West Africa.
"Although no cases of both Marburg and Ebola have been reported in South Sudan, the two outbreaks are of concern, as they place the country at greater risk," Health Minister Dr. Riek Gai Kok told a Wednesday press briefing in Juba.
He ruled out the idea of closing the border with next-door Uganda.
"We considered that yesterday and found it impossible," Kok said. "We cannot close the borders with Uganda."
"Let's step up surveillance, let's step up screening, let's step up vigilance," the minister added. "Everyone must go through screening processes at the borders."
The Ugandan Health Ministry on Tuesday confirmed that 11 people who had shown Marburg-like symptoms had tested negative for the virus.
The suspected infections were among 99 people who have been under observation since they came into contact with a health worker who succumbed to the virus on Sunday.
The Marburg virus last appeared in Uganda two years ago, when it killed six people in the western city of Kabale.
Uganda has a history of hemorrhagic fevers, but has been commended for containing them efficiently. It recently dispatched health workers to help contain West Africa's Ebola outbreak.
Minister Kok said a multi-sector Ebola preparedness and response taskforce had been recently established.
"Protective equipment has been made available… and distributed to high-risk areas," he added.
The health minister also said that isolation centers had been set up along the country's borders and at Juba's main hospital.
Medics, he added, had already been trained to handle any potential outbreak.
"Communities have been sensitized to report all suspected cases and all rumors are being investigated," said Dr. Kok.
Dr. Abdinasir Abubakar, the World Health Organization's representative in South Sudan, urged the public to remain calm.
"We don't have Ebola or Marburg at the moment, but given that Uganda is so close, given that DRC [the Democratic Republic of Congo] is so close, the risk is high," he told reporters.
"We have trained staff and provided protective clothing to all the entry points and all the ten states [of South Sudan]," Abubakar said.
He added: "What we want is that people should not panic and remain calm."Güncelleme Tarihi: 08 Ekim 2014, 23:56