Travel Alert: East African Countries issue deadly Ebola virus outbreak alert
East African states bordering the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) had issued an alert warning resident, travelers and visitors calling to the region to take serious precaution over the outbreak of the deadly and infectious Ebola virus recently reported in Bikoro, Equateur Province in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The disease had killed 17 people in Congo five days ago. Ebola is often fatal if untreated and has an average fatality rate of around 50 percent according to the World Health Organization.
Health experts said the deadly Ebola virus is transmitted to people through direct contact with wild animals and spreads through human-to-human transmission.
The deadly Ebola virus was first reported in African countries near River Congo in 1976 but its serious cases were reported in recent years after several deaths were recorded.
Doomed with civil wars, Democratic Republic of Congo has been reported as the origin of the deadly Ebola virus which is derived from primates then spread to humans. Congolese people hunt gorillas, chimpanzees and monkeys as bush meat.
Tanzania and other countries in Africa bordering Congo have re-introduced routine screening of all travelers at points of entry and cautioned citizens to be vigilant.
The risk to public health across the East African region remains high not only because of the internal weakness of the war-torn Congo’s healthcare system to contain the virus, but also the porous nature of the borders.
Tanzanian minister for Health Ummy Mwalimu issued an alert to people living in areas bordering Congo, saying the Tanzanian government is monitoring the Ebola trends with high precautions to ensure that no chance for the disease to spread across the borders.
Kenyan Health Minister Sicily Kariuki said health experts have been deployed to all border points to screen all passengers entering the East African nation for possible symptoms of the Ebola virus.
She said that Kenya government had established a National Health Emergencies Council, tasked with preventing the spread of the deadly Ebola virus in this African safari destination country.
Though not at great risk compared to its neighbors, Kenya has a big movement of travelers from Congo through its Busia and Malaba entry borders across Ugandan borderline.
Jomo Kenyatta International Airport is the busiest entry point for travelers from Congo where Kenya Airways operates flights between Nairobi and Lubumbashi.
Lubumbashi is the second largest City in Congo known as the mining capital which plays host to largest mining Companies.
In the past five weeks, there have been 21 suspected viral hemorrhagic fevers in and around Ikoko Iponge area of Congo including 17 deaths. The last Ebola outbreak occurred in 2017 in Likati Health Zone, Bas Uele Province, in the northern part of the country and was quickly contained.
In 2014, more than 11,300 people mainly in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia were killed in the worst Ebola epidemic, severely affecting Africa’s tourism sector as travelers canceled their visiting itineraries to the continent.
Consumption of primate products has been counted the source of Ebola virus outbreak in African countries bordering the Equator, mostly in Congo where gorillas, chimpanzees, baboons and monkeys are killed to provide bush meat.
The Congo forest and its adjacent environment is home of primates which have dominated forests in Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Western Tanzania.
Gorillas and Chimpanzees are the most attractive animals pulling thousands of tourists to Rwanda and Uganda with high protection from governments through their wildlife conservation authorities.
Killings of primates, mostly gorillas in Congo for bush meat has been fueled by lack of government protection taking into account of the civil wars which raged the country for decades, wildlife conservationists noted.
A deadly Ebola outbreak in West Africa was recently brought under control after killing many.