Deadly Ebola Virus; ‘WHO’ Warns Kenya Is At High Risk For Ebola Virus Outbreak

Ebola Virus

Much of the world’s focus is on West Africa with the outbreak of Ebola in four countries receiving great scrutiny and the rising death toll lurching over 1,000. Yet, in East Africa there is a growing concern about the spread of the virus in two countries that have now taken a series of pre-emptive steps.
 

Reports today state that the World Health Organization (WHO) has classified Kenya as a “high-risk” country for the spread of the Ebola virus, because it is a major transport hub, with many flights from West Africa, WHO officials say.

In Kenya, however, health officials have said adequate measures are now in place to prevent the entry of the virus. Despite this, and though there has been no reported outbreak of the Ebola virus in Kenya so far, some in the media and general public are not certain of the adequate measures Kenyan Health officials claim to have put in place.

In one glaring instance, travellers arriving in Nairobi from West Africa on Tuesday had complained they were not screened for the virus at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA).  One was David Lochuch Imana, a United Nations official who was among the dozens of passengers arriving from Liberia. Lochuch Imana was visibly irritated upon his arrival at the Kenyan airport.

“It was my concern that this country is not taking the disease seriously as the other countries do. It is because of this careless approach that I raised the matter with my MP so that she could promote public awareness,” Lochuch Imana told the Star Newspaper shortly after his arrival. His words matter, as Lochuch Imana is a Kenyan immigration officer who works at the United Nations Mission in Liberia. His comments came after his arrival from Monrovia this week.

Yet, Kenyan officials are not the only government leaders skittish about the possible spread of Ebola to the eastern region of Africa. In Uganda, health officials on Tuesday had announced that a man they had isolated for nearly a week, since Wednesday at Entebbe airport, had tested negative. He was ill when he arrived and was suspected of carrying the Ebola virus.

The man in question was a Sudanese clinical officer. He was identified during a screening at Entebbe Airport where he had arrived on an Ethiopian Airlines flight.

“The results came in, and it is not a (Ebola) case,” the health ministry spokeswoman Rukia Nakamatte had told Uganda’s New Vision newspaper.

Even though there have been no reported cases of Ebola reported in the East African region, anxiety runs high among health officials in a handful of countries who fear the region is vulnerable.

Kenya may be the key country to watch in East Africa because its Jomo Kenyatta International Airport is the main transit point for travellers from West Africa, and is also a gateway for other transit points in the east. 

A diabetic Liberian aboard a Kenya Airways flight last week, for example, had caused a panic at the JKIA when he appeared sickly, according to the Star newspaper. Kenya’s transportation officials say that the JKIA receives approximately 76 flights a week from West Africa.

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