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Kenya increases Airport screenings, quashes Ebola scare

“There is no Ebola in Kenya,” Tourism CS Najib Balala

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The Kenyan Government has upped screening tests at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) and other points of entry as a precautionary measure following an outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a joint statement from the ministries of Health and Tourism said on Friday.

While it is feared that the deadly Ebola outbreak in Congo which had claimed 17 lives by Thursday, the Government has assured travelers and citizens that the country is safe and that all measures are being looked at to contain possible virus spread.

Health Cabinet Secretary Ms. Sicily Kariuki said 100 health workers have been deployed at JKIA to screening with about 260 officers put on standby across the country to help in monitoring the situation.

“There is no case of Ebola in Kenya and indeed we have intervention measures just in the event that anything occurs,” she said, adding that the Ministry has in the meantime formed National Emergency Council in a move meant to prevent any importation of the disease into the country.

“I set up the council two days ago. The government assures Kenyans and travellers that there is no Ebola case. Adequate measure have been put in place that such a virus will not be imported into the country,” she added.

Tourism CS Najib Balala further quashed those fears saying travellers moving in and out of the country were free to do so, saying “There is no EBOLA in Kenya or Africa, save for a an isolated remote area in DRC.”

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At least 17 people were reported dead on Thursday in an area of northwestern Democratic Republic of Congo, two years after the worst ever outbreak of the virus ended in West Africa after killing more than 11,300 people and infecting some 28,600, mainly in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.

Kenya among other African countries was hailed as having contained the virus in 2014, with few reported deaths, following fears that it could spread through the commercial capital and impact on the country’s main economic drivers such as tourism and transportation sectors.

Kenya which relies heavily on tourist dollars from visits to game reserves, Coastal beaches and popular Safaris was negatively impacted in 2014 when Ebola outbreak was first announced in the country, and hurting tourism industry which was already reeling from a spate of attacks by Islamists, including 2013 attack on the upscale Westgate mall and separate incidents on the coast.

By Editorial Desk

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