South Africa's Department of Health has published a Cabinet decision with regards to measures to counter and control the potential spread of Ebola from West African countries where outbreaks have been reported.
Cases of the disease have been reported in Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria, and recently an increase in the number of cases has been noted in the first three.
The Department of Health has taken measures in South Africa to enhance surveillance, distribute guidelines to all hospitals in public and private sectors, designate health facilities for the treatment of patients, deployed personal protective equipment (PPE) to designated facilities, conducted training, activated outbreak response teams and is operating a hotline for clinicians through the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD).
Countries have been divided into three categories:
1. High risk countries (Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone);
2. Medium risk countries (Nigeria, Kenya and Ethiopia). 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 countries;
3. Low risk countries (all other countries excluding the above)
For high risk countries, there are four types of travelers likely to enter South Africa:
(a) South Africans based in the affected countries;
(b) People with permanent residence status who may come from affected countries;
(c) South Africans who may be traveling to affected countries to conduct business;
(d) Citizens of the affected countries who want to travel to South Africa
For all these travellers, Cabinet decided as follows:
* A total travel ban for all non-citizens travelling from these high risk countries, unless the travel is considered absolutely essential;
* For citizens of South Africa who wish to travel to these countries, they will be requested to delay their travel unless it is also absolutely essential for them to travel;
*ƒnFor South African citizens returning from these countries, they will have to be subjected to a stricter screening process that is as follows:
- Completing 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.
For medium and low risk countries, the ongoing normal surveillance will be enhanced.
For further details and information about operations in South Africa, contact GAC South Africa at [email protected]