Richards Bay Ebola fears dispelled

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases says no ship has been placed under special quarantine.

An agent of the national public health institute poses with a thermometer at the airport, in Abidjan on 12 August, 2014. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - Reports of a ship being placed under Ebola quarantine in Kwazulu Natal have been dismissed by the National Institute for Communicable Diseases.

The ship had reportedly travelled from Libera, one of the country's hardest hit by the outbreak, and arrived at the local harbour on Saturday.

The institute's Lucille Blumberg says no ship has been placed under special quarantine.

"There were normal regulatory procedures that were followed."

The Department of Health and Transnet have also dismissed the reports about the vessel.

The death toll from the worst ever outbreak of the highly contagious disease has climbed to 1,013 since it was discovered in remote south-eastern Guinea in March, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

WHO BACKS USE OF EXPERIMENTAL EBOLA DRUGS

A panel of WHO medical ethics experts ruled on Tuesday that it is ethical to offer unproven drugs or vaccines to people infected or at risk in West Africa's deadly Ebola outbreak.

The panel said any provision of experimental Ebola medicines would require "informed consent, freedom of choice, confidentiality, respect for the person, preservation of dignity and involvement of the community".

The drugs should also be properly tested in the best possible clinical trials, it said.

The WHO has declared the outbreak an international health emergency.

"Ebola outbreaks can be contained using available interventions like early detection and isolation, contact tracing and monitoring, and adherence to rigorous procedures of infection control," the panel said. "However, a specific treatment or vaccine would be a potent asset to counter the virus."

The ethics panel met to discuss whether various experimental drugs and vaccines being developed for Ebola might be used in the outbreak, despite not having been fully tested or licensed.

"A number of interventions have been through the laboratory and animal study phases of development," it said in a statement issued by the WHO.

It said it was likely that so-called "first in man" trials - the first tests of a drug in humans - would be conducted over the next two to four months, but cautioned that even after that and if the trials proved successful, supplies would be limited.

"It is ... likely that the number of doses available for further study and/or deployment from end 2014 onwards will remain insufficient to meet demand," the statement said.

The ethics meeting was called after experimental Ebola drug ZMapp, made by US biotech company Mapp Biopharmaceutical, was given to two American health workers infected with Ebola in Liberia.