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Parliamentary group orders Kenya Airways to cease West Africa flights

13 August 2014, 15:50 William Korir

Nairobi - A parliamentary group has ordered Kenya Airways to cease operations in West Africa as the Ebola virus continues to spread in the continent.

The caucus on human rights, Wednesday called on the airline to stop flights to West Africa to minimize Ebola virus risk spreading to Kenya.

This follows a warning from the World Health Organization WHO earlier in the day that the country is vulnerable to Ebola.

" We urge Kenya Airways to as a matter of grave concern consider stopping flights to the region to enhance the country's security against Ebola, the Caucus said in a statement.

The message from the caucus came despite government efforts to assure Kenyans that the country is safe from the disease.

The Kenya Airports Airports Authority had also said that it has started separate screening for the virus at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport JKIA but the caucus said that it was not enough to protect Kenyans.

" Kenyans need to be protected and that will only be achieved if flights from the region cease from our national carrier, it added.

The government said it has stepped up surveillance at all points of entry following the alert from the World Health Organization that the country is highly vulnerable to transmission of the deadly virus.

Health Cabinet Secretary James Macharia said President Uhuru Kenyatta has ordered state agencies to intensify surveillance measures at the main airports and borders.

"The ministry of health has been closely monitoring the evolution of Ebola outbreak in West Africa and have adopted stringent measures to prevent importation of cases into the country," Macharia told journalists in Nairobi.

So far, the government has ruled out any Ebola case following thorough screening on passengers originating from West Africa, he said. More than 10,000 travelers from West Africa have been screened.

The health cabinet secretary noted heavy human traffic from Ebola hotspots has increased Kenya's vulnerability.

To strengthen Ebola detection, the government has established temporary holding rooms at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

Macharia said an additional isolation facility will be established at a public hospital in Nairobi.

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