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SA remains Ebola-free: Motsoaledi

2014-08-21 18:57

VIDEO: Social media reacts to SA Ebola travel ban

Pretoria - South Africa has no cases of the Ebola virus, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said on Thursday.

"Up to this time, we do not have any single individual within the borders of South Africa who has tested positive for Ebola or any other viral haemorrhagic fevers," he told reporters in Pretoria.

He cautioned about making assumptions about those who were sick without a proper diagnosis.

"There is no way people are not going to be feverish or bleeding in our country. Bleeding and fever do not necessarily constitute any of the viral haemorrhagic fevers."

Motsoaledi said the condition of a 37-year-old South African man who worked for a mining company in Liberia had been an "on and off" situation.

The man was admitted to the Charlotte Maxeke hospital, in Johannesburg, for tests.

"He has tested negative for Ebola. He was tested for other diseases and tested negative," Motsoaledi said.

Motsoaledi said South Africa was cautioning its citizens against travelling to high-risk areas like Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia.

"If they are intending to go away forever, then there is nothing we can do. They should tell us before they leave," he said.

"The international health regulations say this is an emergency around the world. Countries have got rights to do whatever they think is their power, to protect their citizens.

"We did not determine any penalties if people ignore these regulations. If a person is not supposed to be travelling, then we will just not allow them to go in. If they escape through another route which we don't know, then we won't allow them back into the country."

He said the World Health Organisation advised countries against issuing travel bans. Cabinet, however, issued an immediate travel ban for non-South Africans from countries that had seen Ebola virus outbreaks.

"We are not only doing it for South Africa. Ministers in the Southern Africa Development Community believe if there is going to be a breach in South Africa, then the whole region is affected," he said.

"It is also a request from countries in the SADC. We are doing all these things to safeguard the region."

For people from medium- and low-risk countries, including Nigeria, Kenya and Ethiopia, the normal surveillance processes would continue.

Cabinet established an inter-ministerial committee to deal with the co-ordination of responses to the Ebola outbreak.

The committee included the departments of health, national treasury, defence, international relations, and home affairs.

"Cabinet further approved funding requested by the department of health to the tune of R32.5m from the African Renaissance Fund to support containment and to prevent further spread of the virus to South Africa and other countries," he said.

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