Ebola outbreak: Affected countries should give 'exit screenings' for travellers, says World Health Organisation

Screenings urged to be held at international airports, seaports and major land crossings

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The Independent Online

Countries affected by the Ebola outbreak have been told to give "exit screenings" to any people wishing to leave places such as Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Monday.

The U.N. health agency said the affected countries are requested to conduct the screenings for anyone travelling from international airports, seaports and major land crossings for unexplained febrile illness consistent with the Ebola infection.

"Anyone found to have symptoms consistent with Ebola should not be allowed to travel unless for the purposes of a medical evacuation," the agency said, adding that "non –affected countries need to strengthen the capacity to detect and immediately contain new cases, while avoiding measures that will create unnecessary interference with international travel or trade".

WHO said it does not recommend any ban on international travel, international travel, or the screening of passengers who have not travelled from affected countries.

The agency stressed that the risk of a person becoming infected with the virus on a visit to an affected and developing the disease after returning is very low however, "even if the visit includes travel to areas in which the cases have been reported".

The advisory comes a day after the news that at least 20 patients believed to be suffering from Ebola have fled a quarantine clinic in Liberia.

Video: WHO declared Ebola an international emergency last month

The patients are understood to have fled the clinic after protesters broke in and looted the building, stealing blood-stained bedding among other items, which officials say poses a serious infection risk.

WHO’s advisory will be welcome news to university officials in the UK however, who have now been put on alert to be ready for a potential outbreak of the virus when the new term starts in September.

Universities UK, the umbrella body that represents vice-chancellors, has written to each university with guidance on how to deal with the outbreak as institutions are expecting thousands of new students to arrive from West Africa this September.