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Topnews, South Africa

15. August 2014

Update on 2014 Ebola Outbreak from the: Cluster Manager: Communicable Diseases - National Department of Health

With regard to the 2014 Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak, please kindly be informed that the outbreak is currently limited to 4 countries (Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria).  Suspected cases have been reported by many countries in East and Southern Africa, and elsewhere. This is a good sign that all countries are strengthening their prevention and control measures at ports of entry, and signals that stronger measures are being taken globally to control the outbreak and prevent further spread. No confirmed cases have been reported outside of the 4 affected countries, and no confirmed cases have been reported in South Africa

Please find some figures and statements released recently from the WHO and the Government of South Africa about the outbreak and the response.

*Updates on numbers of cases and deaths can be accessed at http://www.who.int/csr/don/2014_08_08_ebola/en/ As of 11 August 2014, the cumulative number of cases attributed to EVD in the four countries stands at 1 975, including 1 069 deaths. A statement issued by WHO yesterday indicated the these numbers likely underestimate the scale of the epidemic  http://www.who.int/csr/disease/ebola/overview-20140814/en/ and that all partners are contributing to a massive scale up of the response in affected areas to stem the outbreak at its source.

*Advice for travellers can be accessed at http://www.who.int/ith/updates/20140421/en/ Risks to travellers to affected regions or border regions is low. WHO has reiterated yesterday that they do not recommend a general ban on travel or trade, because the risk of Ebola transmission via air travel is low http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/notes/2014/ebola-travel/en/

*General information about Ebola and its transmission can be accessed at http://www.who.int/csr/disease/ebola/en/ The fact sheet emphasizes that Ebola is not transmitted via casual contact. The disease is transmitted through direct contact with body fluids (blood, vomit, stool, urine, saliva) of people or animals that are sick with Ebola or have died of Ebola. Health workers and family members who have handled patients or the bodies of people who have died of Ebola are the most severely affected.

*How South Africa is responding http://www.nicd.ac.za/ To date, there have been no confirmed cases of Ebola in South Africa. Several cases of fever and exposure have been evaluated at point of entry and local hospitals, which can be attributed to the National Department of Health's stepped up prevention and control measures at ports of entry and across the hospital systems. The NICD has issued a response to frequently asked questions by individuals and the media, which is useful http://www.nicd.ac.za/assets/files/Ebola%20virus%20disease_FAQ.pdf

The South African government has put into place control measures at South African ports of entry as well as medical facilities in South Africa to identify people who present with symptoms of Ebola, and procedures are in place to determine whether they have been exposed to Ebola. South African airports are equipped with body thermal monitoring devices which detect travellers with raised temperatures. For those travellers with fever, they are further assessed by medical officials to evaluate whether they could have been exposed, with special attention being given to people who have travelled in West Africa.  All other entry points are also being actively controlled. If individuals are carrying Ebola and are not detected at point of entry, procedures have been established throughout the country to quickly detect and manage such cases. Health facilities are receiving information about how to evaluate patients for exposure, and the NDOH has also identified specific hospitals across the country, and in every major city which are being equipped with all appropriate equipment to manage such patients.

WHO and other partners are supporting the Government of South Africa is preparing its national response plan to mobilize resources for strengthening its surveillance systems, laboratory systems, case finding and contact tracing, infection prevention and control, and public awareness.  There are no travel or trade restrictions for travellers from Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, or Sierra Leone.  The regulations for evidence of a valid yellow fever vaccination certificate apply.

Other relevant links

Link to the WHO Declaration of the 2014 Ebola Outbreak as a Public Health Emergency http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/statements/2014/ebola-20140808/en/

Link to the WHO statement on ethical considerations for unregistered medicines http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/statements/2014/ebola-ethical-review-summary/en

Link to the South Africa Laboratory Guidelines for the Investigation of Suspected Cases of Ebola http://www.nicd.ac.za/assets/files/LAB%20GUIDELINES%20091414%20V1_0.pdf

Link to South African Case Definitions of Ebola http://www.nicd.ac.za/assets/files/LAB%20GUIDELINES%20091414%20V1_0.pdf

Link to SADC Declaration http://www.sadc.int/documents-publications/show/2732

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