SA bans travel of non-citizens from Ebola hit countries

Aaron Motsoaledi says although the Ebola outbreak is limited, containing it at the source is essential.

Minister of Health Aaron Motsoaledi. Picture: Sapa.

JOHANNESBURG - Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has announced that the government has banned the travel of non-South African citizens from Ebola high-risk countries.

The minister made the announcement in Pretoria today following Cabinet's approval of heightened surveillance mechanisms to identify infected people.

Over 1,350 deaths have so far been reported in West Africa.

Motsoaeledi says non-South African citizens will not be permitted to enter the country from Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia.

He says South Africans however will be permitted to enter the country but will be subject to stringent screening measures.

Motsoaledi says although the Ebola outbreak is limited, containing it at the source is essential to limiting its spread.

Cabinet further approved several other measures to ensure health authorities are adequately prepared in the event a patient tests positive for the disease.

Motsoaledi says personal protective clothing will be distributed to designated health facilities, while outbreak response teams have been activated.

At the same time, Dr Andrew Medina-Marino says South Africa doesn't need to panic about the outbreak just yet.

Speaking to Talk Radio 702's Redi Tlhabi on Thursday, Medina-Marino said the thermal scanning equipment introduced at the country's airports was an important first step.

He however said the value of the scanners is limited.

"It could take up to 21 days to appear after a person has been exposed or infected. So if you arrive at the airport and you're not yet symptomatic, those scanners at the airport won't pick up that you are sick."