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Govt refutes illegal entry of citizens from Ebola hit West Africa

21 August 2014, 10:21

Nairobi - The government on Wednesday denied media reports that more than 200 citizens from Ebola hit West African countries had sneaked into the country through the porous borders.

Cabinet Secretary for Health James Macharia told journalists in Nairobi the country's borders are secure.

"What was reported in a section of the media about the influx of illegal migrants from West Africa is untrue. Our borders are secure and any case of illegal entry will be detected promptly," Macharia said.

Local media reported on Wednesday that migrants from Ebola hit West African countries had sneaked into Kenya through its Western borders with Uganda.

Kenya has announced a suspension of flights to Liberia, Guinea and Siera Leone following Ebola scare in the latest measures to curb the spread of the virus into the country.

The ban took effect on Tuesday midnight and only Kenyan nationals arriving from these countries will be allowed to pass through the main airports.

Unconfirmed reports from the media alleged West African nationals have exploited loopholes in the borders to enter the Kenyan soil. The media report added these illegal migrants had evaded Ebola screening at the border.

Leaders from counties bordering Uganda on Tuesday sounded alarm over an influx of citizens from Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea and Nigeria.

However, the health cabinet secretary clarified state agencies monitoring Ebola at ports of entry have not detected any case.

"No report has been sent by the immigration department, police and health personnel regarding detection of an Ebola case. As for now, we should treat the reports of illegal entry as hyperbole," Macharia said.

Kenya has dispatched two doctors to Liberia to assess the magnitude of Ebola outbreak. Macharia said the government is waiting for the doctors' feedback to inform deterrent measures.

The move comes as the health ministry released a contingency plan that will guide health institutions in the country on what to do if the dreaded Ebola Viral Disease (EVD) spreads into the country.

The contingency plan is meant to serve as a guide to EVD prevention, preparedness and response for the country after the disease broke out in West Africa, a region closely linked to Kenya through frequent flights.

The flow of travellers from the West African countries into Kenya is one of the risk factors for an EVD outbreak in the country, according to the contingency plan.

Other risk factors include contact with people who have been to Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leon and Nigeria, health workers identified to assist in response activities in West Africa and a health workforce that does not have the capacity to detect, notify and manage EVD cases among others.

The contingency plan will see the creation of a central reference Ebola outbreak preparedness and response information depository.

It will also facilitate risk communication by providing accurate information to health workers and the community, provide guidance on key actions to be taken during the different phases of the outbreak preparedness and response, prepare clinicians for appropriate EVD case management and identify and mobilize resources for response.

- Xinhua

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