People are screened for Ebola virus disease (EVD) at the Kenya-Uganda border in Busia, Kenya, June 19, 2019. Kenya's health ministry has allayed fears of an Ebola outbreak in the country after a suspected case which was reported in Kericho County in northwest region turned negative. (Xinhua/Fred Mutune)
Johannesburg - Although South Africa has not yet put in place travel restrictions to Uganda or Kenya following a recent Ebola scare, authorities say they remain on high alert.

This month, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) issued an alert saying the risk of Ebola spreading to South Africa from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda remained low.

The NICD said despite the low risk, “planning to support timely detection and response to the importation of a case continues”.

The NICD’s Professor Lucille Bloomberg said the chances of Ebola spreading to South Africa from the DRC were low.

“South Africa has many years of experience of diagnosing and successfully managing cases and outbreaks of other viral haemorrhagic fevers such as Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever.

“During the very large 2014-2016 Ebola outbreak in multiple countries in West Africa, there were no cases of Ebola in South Africa.”

Bloomberg said this was due to training to recognise Ebola cases.

“There was a very sensitive and active system to identify persons with fever who had travelled to possible risk areas and test those for Ebola, indicating a cautious but very sensitive approach.

“For the majority of persons, no risk of Ebola could be identified and malaria was confirmed quite rapidly,” Bloomberg said.

Last week the World Health Organsation said there was a shortfall in funding, labelling the situation as “immediate and crucial” if efforts to address the outbreak were to continue at the current rate.

According to the health body, there is a shortfall of $54 million as it needed $98m for the response - with $44m having already been received.

Ebola virus disease, previously known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever, can be fatal.

According to the WHO, the virus can be transmitted to people from wild animals while transmission from person to person can happen through bodily fluids.

Sunday Independent