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Ebola: Govt places special emphasis on airports

Minister Aaron Motsoaledi says his dept is analysing various probabilities of how Ebola could enter SA.

Liberian nurses carry the body of a suspected victim of Ebola at the Sonuwein community in Monrovia, Liberia, 3 October 2014. Picture: EPA/Ahmed Jallanzo.

JOHANNESBURG - Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi says the Ebola virus is likely to reach South Africa through one of the main airports in Gauteng.

While the country remains Ebola free, government has placed special emphasis on airports by stepping up health preventative measures, specifically at OR Tambo International and Lanseria airports.

More than 3,800 people have died since the deadliest outbreak of Ebola was first detected this year, with cases now reported in the United States and Europe.

South Africa meanwhile has stepped up to the forefront of assisting affected countries, especially in West Africa, by setting up an Ebola response fund.

Motsoaledi says they are analysing various probabilities in terms of how Ebola could enter the country.

"If there is any chance of getting Ebola in South Africa, it's going to come via an aeroplane, which will land at OR Tambo International or Lanseria - not that it won't happen at the other airports. We are looking at probabilities here. At the other nine points of entry we have trained health workers and we're ready."

EBOLA RESPONSE TEAM

Motsoaledi on Friday pledged support to fight the deadly virus ravaging West Africa.

The minister said the Multi-sectoral National Outbreak Response Team is now meeting more regularly to deal with Ebola worldwide, adding that surveillance for the viral haemorrhagic fever had increased.

Thermal scanners were set up at ports of entry and screening had been stepped up.

In the case of an outbreak in South Africa, 11 hospitals will deal with cases, the minister said.

South Africa also pledged to help West African countries with equipment and through a response fund.

SA REMAINS EBOLA FREE

Motsoaledi on Friday also emphasised that South Africa remains Ebola-free.

He said there's no need for panic, as South Africa is more than ready to deal with the virus.

The minister said while there have been some scares, patients who have displayed symptoms of fever and bleeding have all so far tested negative.