West African nations affected by the worst-ever outbreak of Ebola have been urged to screen “all people at international airports, seaports and major land crossings” in order to stop its spread, Aljazeera reports.
The World Health Organisation said on Monday that authorities should stop anyone with signs of the virus from travelling, days after it warned that the magnitude of the outbreak was “vastly underestimated”.
WHO reiterated that the risk of getting infected with the virus on an aircraft was small and there was no need for wider travel or trade restrictions.
“Any person with an illness consistent with Ebola should not be allowed to travel unless the travel is part of an appropriate medical evacuation,” the UN agency said.
Following the statement, Cameroon has closed all its land, sea and air borders with Nigeria in a move to help prevent the spread of the disease, the country’s government spokesman told the AFP news agency.
No cases of Ebola have been recorded so far in Cameroon, which shares a nearly 2,000km border with Nigeria, where the virus has killed four people, and infected about a dozen others.
It will take about six months for the epidemic to be controlled, Joanne Liu, the head of Doctors Without Borders, said on Friday. “If we don’t stabilise Liberia, we will never stabilise the region,” Liu said.
The outbreak in West Africa has already killed 1,145 and infected more than 2,000.
The WHO’s latest statement came as Liberian authorities were trying to find 17 Ebola-infected patients who fled a quarantine centre on Sunday in West Point, Monrovia, after it was looted by an armed gang.
The AP news agency quoted the country’s assistant health minister Tolbert Nyenswah as saying that some of the patients were found and are being monitored at a hospital. It was not clear how they were identified.
However, the AFP news agency reported the country’s information minister, Lewis Brown, as saying they had not been found, and the gang which looted the facility “took away mattresses and bedding that were soaked with fluids from the patients”.
The virus spreads through bodily fluids.
The authorities are now considering sealing off the area, home to around 75,000 people.
“All those hooligans who looted the centre are all now probable carriers of the disease,” said Brown. “To quarantine the area could be one of the solutions.”