Indian MPs cancel SA trip fearing Ebola

The delegation was due to meet the president and Baleka Mbete in what was to be a week-long visit.

FILE: A girl suspected of being infected with the Ebola virus has her temperature checked at the government hospital in Kenema, Sierra Leone, on 16 August 2014. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - A newspaper in India is today reporting that a Parliamentary delegation to South Africa was cancelled after several of those scheduled to travel expressed fears about Ebola.

The Hindustan Times says the delegation was due to meet President Jacob Zuma and Parliamentary Speaker Baleka Mbete in what was to be a week-long visit.

But more than three of the 12 Members of Parliament (MPs) who signed on, reportedly cancelled at the 11th hour.

The newspaper's chief content officer and former editor of Mail & Guardian, Nicholas Dawes, says although the decision to pull out rested with the individuals, the episode is embarrassing.

"Some of the MPs refused to go because they were nervous about Ebola and apparently didn't realise that Pretoria and West Africa are thousands of kilometres apart."

He says senior government officials should know better.

"They are MPs and you'd hope they know Africa isn't a country."

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa has claimed nearly 1,500 lives.

Meanwhile, specialists trying to stop the spread of Ebola in West Africa suspect they will soon be faced with a new challenge as food and other necessary supplies are drying up due to restrictions on imports.

A South African team deployed to Sierra Leone to set up a mobile diagnostics lab says it's been a rough few days since arriving in the country a week ago.

The four-member team from the National Institute for Communicable Diseases has set up its diagnostic lab in Sierra Leone.

Professor Janusz Paweska, head of the special pathogens department at the institute, says it's too early to determine whether the efforts by team deployed in the region from across the world are succeeding from stopping the virus from spreading.

The professor said although the movement of infected people is now being controlled, it's difficult to control the movement of people altogether.

The team will remain in Sierra Leone for up to three months.