ebola-airportAFRICA – As the world panics over the Ebola outbreak, West Africans are reportedly fleeing their countries in a bid to outrun the virus – some even headed overland for South Africa. According to the Sunday Independent, this could place South Africa at considerable risk. Johannesburg-based members of the immigrant communities from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, told the newspaper that there is a considerable number of people attempting to reach SA, most trying to reach it overland – a 5,000km trek. One man said he alone knew of at least five people who were on their way. The newspaper reports that it would just take one carrier to change the situation in SA – particularly in a community that is largely housed in the densely populated city centre of Johannesburg – an ideal breeding ground for a communicable virus such as Ebola. In addition, these often undocumented migrants also enter the country through the porous border at Beitbridge in northern Limpopo – an entry point that has no measures such as temperature radars in place to check visitors who could be carriers.
However, Minister of Home Affairs Malusi Gigaba and Minister of Health Aaron Motsoaledi have stated that although caution needs to be exercised, it cannot be done at the expense of fuelling xenophobia. Motsoaledi said that he feels SA is too far away for most people to reach by land and if they were carrying the disease, the chances are they would not make it to the border alive, reported the newspaper. Meanwhile, as reported by News24 on Saturday, the UN special envoy on Ebola says the number of cases is probably doubling every three to four weeks and the response needs to be 20 times greater than it was at the beginning of October. David Nabarro warned the UN General Assembly on Friday that without the mass mobilization of the world to support the affected countries in West Africa, “it will be impossible to get this disease quickly under control, and the world will have to live with the Ebola virus forever.” EP