Tuesday, November 18, 2014 4:39 am
Fearful of a surge of Ebola cases, Mali placed nearly 600 people under surveillance, as the country battles to contain the spread of the deadly tropical virus.
Malian officials met on Monday to consider increasing security at its border following two confirmed cases of Ebola due to infection in neighbouring Guinea.
US airports also announced plans to begin enhanced screening of travellers from the west African nation.
Mali has been scrambling to prevent a minor outbreak from turning into a major crisis after the deaths of a Guinean imam and the Malian nurse who treated him in the capital Bamako.
A friend who had visited the imam in the Pasteur clinic also died of probable Ebola, and a two-year-old child died from the disease last month in an unconnected case in the western town of Kayes.
President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, on a visit to the imam’s home village of Kouremale on the Mali-Guinea border, urged locals to take all precautions in “the war” against Ebola.
Health Minister Ousmane Kone, who accompanied the president on the trip, said “577 people were under daily observation”, up from Sunday’s figure of 442 people who were being monitored for Ebola symptoms.
Teams of investigators have been tracking health workers and scouring Bamako and the imam’s village of Kouremale, which straddles the Mali-Guinea border, for people who could have been exposed.
The European Union on Monday pledged 12 million euros ($15 million) in funding to Mali, Senegal and Ivory Coast amid growing fears Ebola could spread in the region.
The money would help the countries “prepare for the risk of an Ebola outbreak through early detection and public awareness measures”.
The World Health Organization announced on Friday that the outbreak — almost entirely confined to west Africa — has killed 5,177 people and infected around 14,500 since Ebola emerged in Guinea in December.
The death rate in west Africa from the virus has reached around 70 percent, the World Health Organization said Tuesday.
– Enhanced screening –
US authorities on Monday began enhanced Ebola screenings of travellers from Mali, adding it to a list of three other west African countries — Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea — where the measures were already in place.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in a joint statement with the Department of Homeland Security, said Mali was added to the list “because there have been a number of confirmed cases of Ebola” there in recent days.
“A large number of individuals may have been exposed to those cases,” the statement said.
“The action is warranted as a precaution due to the possibility that other cases of Ebola may emerge in Mali in the coming days,” the statement said.
The United States said about 15-20 travellers depart Mali each day en route to the United States.