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Thursday, September 21, 2023

Experts warn against cutting off West Africa


This development came after economic experts say travel restrictions would not just hamper the medical response to Ebola but it could also damage the economies of many African nations by scaring away tourists, investors and damaging trade.

Tom Frieden, director of the US centres for disease and control in a visit to Guinea Conakry on Monday said: “Countries might try to restrict travel in order to protect themselves, and it will do the opposite. If we cut off these countries, we will interfere with our ability to support them and stop the outbreak and that will actually increase the risk to the rest of the world.”

Also speaking to journalists, Stephen Cornish, executive director of Médecins sans frontières (Doctors Without Borders) in Canada said: “We should not be cutting off the affected countries’ lifelines in a misguided effort at home society protection. The over sensationalism and hype around Ebola has not helped the public’s understanding of how the disease is spread. The suspension of African flights will heighten the risks of Ebola spreading to other countries, since it will become more difficult to send medical and epidemiological specialists to the Ebola zone.”

Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation also criticised any move to place travel bans on West African countries saying “it was disappointed when airlines stop flying to West Africa and hard to save lives if we and other health workers cannot get in.” WHO further stated that some of the panic is due to fears that Ebola could spread by air travel but the risk remains low. It said that unlike influenza or tuberculosis, Ebola is not airborne and can only be transmitted by direct contact with the body fluids of someone who is sick with the disease.

Senegal which shares a border with The Gambia is the latest country to confirm Ebola after a university student from Guinea crossed into the country carrying the dreaded disease. The arrival of the disease in Senegal, a tourist and transport hub, has raised fears that the disease could spread even farther afield. But public health experts around the world have said shutting borders and banning flights are not the answer.


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