NICD warns against Ebola predictions

Scientists have predicted that Ebola will spread to France and Britain by the end of this month.

The boots of health workers after being disinfected at the Medicines Sans Frontier (MSF) Ebola Treatment Unit in Monrovia, Liberia. Picture: Ahmed Jallanzo/EPA.

JOHANNESBURG - The National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) says it's dangerous to make predictions of where the Ebola virus will spread to.

Scientists at Britain's Lancaster University have predicted that Ebola will spread to France and Britain by the end of this month.

They used disease spread patterns and air traffic control data to make this determination.

While over 3,000 people have died from Ebola, which has been centred mainly in Africa, the institute says South Africa is still a low risk area.

The organisation's Dr Lucille Blumberg says it's misleading to make predictions at this stage.

"It's misleading to look at the issue in that way and it's not the same as influenza spreading across the different countries."

Meanwhile, Liberian healthcare workers still plan to stage a go-slow, or work slowdown, to press demands for hazard pay on the front line of the Ebola epidemic, a union leader said.

The protest, announced last week, would come despite a plea from the UN health agency that the workers avoid industrial action.

Nearly 2,000 people have died from Ebola in Liberia out of the 3,696 infected.

The hemorrhagic virus has also taken a heavy toll on health workers and this has galvanized the National Health Workers Association of Liberia, said its secretary general George Williams.

Earlier, the representative of the World Health Organisation in Liberia, Peter Graaff, said it was crucial that the workers did not undermine efforts to combat Ebola.

Additional reporting by Reuters.