SADC taking precautionary measures to halt Ebola

SADC health ministers are holding a two-day emergency meeting to find solutions.

Medical workers of the Liberian Red Cross, wearing a protective suit, carry the body of a victim of the Ebola virus in a bag on 4 September, 2014 in the small city of Banjol, 30 kilometres of Monrovia. Picture: AFP.

ZIMBABWE - The Southern African Development Community (SADC) is meeting to take steps to stop Ebola which has been spreading through a number of West and Central African countries.

Health ministers are meeting in the Zimbabwean resort town of Victoria Falls.

Chairperson of the SADC health ministers forum David Parirenyatwa says the bloc needs to prepare itself in case the virus finds its way into Southern Africa.

The SADC health ministers are holding a two-day emergency meeting to find solutions.

Parirenyatwa says the ministers want to reach an agreement on issues on travel, border controls and screening procedures.

Unlike South Africa, Zimbabwe hasn't closed its borders to travellers from Ebola-hit nations, although it does ask them to undergo a three-week-long observation period.

Only one SADC country, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has recently recorded Ebola cases, although the World Health Organisation (WHO) says the strain of the virus in the DRC is different to the West African virus.

The state Herald newspaper is reporting that Parirenyatwa is particularly concerned by the threat of infection posed by long distance truck drivers, among other issues.


A plane carrying a third US missionary infected with the Ebola virus in Liberia left the West African country's capital on Thursday, and he will be taken to the Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, the Christian organization SIM USA said.

Dr. Rick Sacra, a 51-year-old Boston physician, is the latest worker for SIM USA to be infected with the virus that has killed more than 1,900 people.

A Reuters cameraman saw Sacra, wearing a white protective overall, step out of the car that brought him to the tarmac. He walked onto the aircraft.

The plane was expected to arrive in Omaha on Friday morning, and Sacra will begin receiving treatment in the hospital's Biocontainment Patient Care Unit, the organisation said in a statement.

"Rick was receiving excellent care from our SIM/ELWA staff in Liberia at our Ebola 2 Care Center," said Bruce Johnson, president of SIM USA.

"They all love and admire him deeply. However, the Nebraska Medical Center provides advanced monitoring equipment and wider availability of treatment options," Johnson said.

Liberian Information Minister Lewis Brown confirmed that the plane carrying Sacra was identical to the Gulfstream jet that ferried Nancy Writebol and Dr. Kent Brantly, who had contracted the disease in July while working at the missionary group's health facilities in Liberia.

Sacra had volunteered to return to Liberia, where he has long offered medical services, when the two other U.S. health workers were infected.

Writebol and Brantly have since recovered after being flown back to the United States for treatment in an isolation unit at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.

Sacra had not been caring for Ebola patients but was delivering babies, and had been following protocols to prevent the disease, the group said. It was not known how he contracted the disease.