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".
See the Ebola outbreak mapped
See the Ebola outbreak mapped
1/7 25 March 2014
This outbreak of the Ebola virus first emerged in the Guéckédou region of Guinea, at a crossroads with both Liberia and Sierra Leone
2/7 31 March
On 31 March the WHO confirmed the outbreak was now international, spreading first into Liberia's northern-most Lofa region
3/7 27 May
The virus spread to Sierra Leone at the end of May - just as agencies were hoping the worst was over
4/7 27 July
In Sierra Leone the virus boomed, and then it spread to Nigeria when the Liberian diplomat Patrick Sawyer flew from Monrovia to Lagos
5/7 9 August
The Nigeria cases sparked fears around the world, and there have now been deaths in Spain and Saudi Arabia involving people who had travelled to West Africa. The numbers of cases continue to rise
6/7 17-20 September
In mid-September, Senegal confirmed its first case linked to the Ebola outbreak, a development the WHO described as a top priority emergency. Numbers of cases continued to grow exponentially in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, as experts warned they could number one million by January if not contained
7/7 8 October
Two cases of Ebola have now been reported in the US and Europe - the first times the virus has been contracted among health workers outside Africa
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.