Harare, March 28 (IANS) Zimbabwe’s deputy health minister said Thursday that the southeast African country is on high alert to the deadly epidemic of Ebola virus in West Africa, which killed nearly 60 people in Guinea alone.
Health and Child Care deputy Minister Paul Chimedza said since the virus spreads very fast, the threat is “always there”, according to Xinhua.
“One victim of Ebola flying into the country can cause a spread of the virus so we are more vigilant,” Chimedza told reporters. “We are going to alert people who man our airports 24/7 on what to do. So if anything happens, we are ready.”
Chimedza said a hospital in Harare has been designated as the isolation cell for people suspected of being infected with the virus strain.
In Liberia, about eight suspected cases of Ebola were reported. Five of them had traveled from Guinea. Meanwhile, Guinean authorities are keeping the virus away from the capital Conakry, home to three million people.
The World Health Organisation said the Ebola outbreak is spreading through forests in Guinea’s southeast and may have crossed borders into Liberia and Sierra Leone.
The virus, first discovered in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in 1976, is transmitted by direct contact with the blood, secretions, other bodily fluids or organs of infected persons or animals such as chimpanzees, gorillas, monkeys and antelopes, and it has an incubation period of two to 21 days.
No vaccine has yet been developed for the virus. The strain suspected in the Guinea outbreak is named Zaire ebolavirus, which was last seen in the DRC in 2009. It’s the deadliest ebolavirus, with a fatality rate approaching 90 percent, health experts say.