August 8, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – The African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) has imposed restrictions on the travel of its staff to and from West Africa as part of “decisive measures” to prevent the transmission of the deadly ebola virus to Sudan.
Ebola first appeared in 1976 in 2 simultaneous outbreaks, in Nzara, Sudan, and in Yambuku, Democratic Republic of Congo. The latter was in a village situated near the Ebola River, from which the disease takes its name.
Ebola is a severe, often fatal illness in humans which has a case fatality rate of up to 90%.
UNAMID , in a statement received by Sudan Tribune, said there are no recorded cases of ebola among its personnel, stressing it is monitoring the disease outbreak since its onset in early 2014 and is coordinating its prevention measures with the WHO and with other international bodies.
The statement pointed that the World Health Organization (WHO) so far has not imposed restrictions on travel to and from the countries where cases of ebola have been recorded.
It added that the UNAMID medical section has put in place a strict set of measures to prevent the risks related to the disease.
“As such, in a three-stage verification process, all UNAMID personnel travelling to and from West Africa have to undergo strict medical procedures with UN-certified medical staff, prior to their departure to West Africa, prior to their return to the Mission and upon their return to the Mission,” said the statement
The mission underscored that it issues regular guidance to its staff on prevention and precautions to avoid contracting ebola besides monitoring the global situation of the spread of the disease.
The statement further pointed that UNAMID “follows the guidelines from the WHO and regularly updates the guidance to staff, reviews and amends the measures that are in place in line with international standards of countering the epidemic”.
UNAMID has more than 19,000 soldiers and police in Darfur mostly from East, West, and Central Africa where the deadly disease spreads.
On Friday, WHO declared an international public health emergency, demanding an “extraordinary” response to the disease. It did not call for a general international travel or trade bans because of the outbreak, but acknowledged that the outbreak was far from being contained.
It identified three groups that are at risk of contracting the disease: individuals having had close contact or consumed infected animals or their raw flesh; healthcare workers, such as doctors and nurses; and persons who are in close constant contact with visibly ill patients.
According to WHO, as of 4 August, the cumulative number of cases attributed to ebola in the four West African countries of Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone stood at 1,711, including 932 deaths.