Region on high alert over Ebola outbreak

East Africa is once again on high alert for a possible Ebola outbreak following reports of new outbreaks of the killer disease in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda have heightened their disease surveillance and preparedness for prevention, including early detection and response at their major airports of Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Kilimanjaro and Entebbe respectively.

However, despite the fear that the disease could spread to the region as a result of heavy human traffic especially through Kenya and Ethiopia that have direct flights to West Africa, the two governments have not stopped flying to West Africa.

“Apart from Sierra Leone, where the ban still holds, Kenya Airways still flies to Liberia until it is directed to stop again by the government,” said Wanjiru Mugo, KQ’s head of communication.

Last year, Kenya and Ethiopia were mapped among the high risk countries for a possible Ebola outbreak due to the major flights flying in and out of West Africa every day. About 60 per cent of passengers from the West African countries are usually in transit through Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

Kenya’s Health Cabinet Secretary James Macharia said no new ban has been imposed although the government is keeping a keen eye on what is happening in West Africa.

But trained health workers are at the airports to test all passengers from West Africa for possible symptoms of Ebola. High fever, vomiting and dehydration are some of the first symptoms experienced by Ebola patients.