Ebola’s knock-on ef­fect

CityPress - - Voices -

African coun­tries in­sti­tuted fur­ther travel bans this week in an ef­fort to con­tain the Ebola out­break, ig­nor­ing World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion warn­ings that such mea­sures could heighten short­ages of food and ba­sic sup­plies in af­fected ar­eas.

In the West Point slum in Liberia’s cap­i­tal of Mon­rovia, the scene of vi­o­lent clashes with the army on Wed­nes­day af­ter the area was quar­an­tined to curb the spread of Ebola, hun­dreds of peo­ple jos­tled their way to­wards trucks loaded with wa­ter and rice.

Po­lice used canes to beat back some lo­cals while aid work­ers helped oth­ers dip their fingers in ink to record their ra­tion.

“I ain’t eat since yes­ter­day. I have four young chil­dren and none of us eat. I feel bad,” said Hawa Saah, a preg­nant 23-year-old res­i­dent of West Point, speak­ing in the pid­gin English com­mon here.

De­liv­er­ies of ba­sic sup­plies to more than a mil­lion peo­ple across Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone are in­tended to avoid a food cri­sis where more than 1 300 peo­ple have died from Ebola in the worst out­break of the dis­ease in his­tory.

The World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion (WHO) has re­peat­edly said that it does not rec­om­mend travel or trade re­stric­tions for the four coun­tries af­fected by the epi­demic that be­gan in March. Short­ages of fuel, food and ba­sic sup­plies due to th­ese mea­sures are start­ing to af­fect the coun­tries.

South Africa on Thurs­day banned all trav­ellers from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone from en­ter­ing its ter­ri­tory, aside from its own cit­i­zens.

The pre­cau­tions fol­low mea­sures from com­mer­cial air­lines such as Kenya Air­ways and Gam­bia Bird, which have sus­pended flights to af­fected coun­tries, de­spite new test­ing pro­ce­dures at air­ports. The US and sev­eral Euro­pean coun­tries have also ad­vised against nonessen­tial travel to the re­gion. Guinea’s Pres­i­dent, Al­pha Conde, met with air­lines on Wed­nes­day in an at­tempt to per­suade them to re­sume nor­mal ser­vice to the coun­try.

“No Guinean has left the coun­try to ex­port Ebola else­where. Even the WHO has recog­nised that Guinea’s mea­sures are suf­fi­cient,” he said.

The WHO said it would con­vene talks early next month on po­ten­tial treat­ments and vac­cines to con­tain the out­break. Ebola has struck hard­est in coun­tries with health­care sys­tems ill-equipped to cope with an epi­demic. A depart­ment of health re­port in Liberia, the coun­try where in­fec­tion is ris­ing fastest, showed 60 new sus­pected, prob­a­ble and con­firmed cases for just one day on Au­gust 19. Two of them were health work­ers.

In an in­di­ca­tion of the strain on lo­cal pop­u­la­tions, se­cu­rity forces in Mon­rovia fired live rounds and tear gas on Wed­nes­day as crowds sought to break quar­an­tine re­stric­tions. A 15-year-old boy re­ceiv­ing treat­ment for gun shot wounds later died, the med­i­cal direc­tor of the hos­pi­tal treat­ing him said on Thurs­day.

– Reuters

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