By Ivan R Mugisha
Despite being declared Ebola-free in May, Liberia identified a new string of infections in November 2015 when three cases were confirmed.
Rwanda has issued a public notice that reinstates mandatory self-reporting for travellers from Ebola affected countries in the wake of new infections reported in Liberia.
The country's Ministry of Health said that self-reporting is mandatory for individuals staying in Rwanda for up to 22 days after leaving an Ebola affected country and indicated that measures would be taken for noncompliance.
Nathan Mugume, the director of communications at the Health Ministry, told The EastAfrican Monday that travellers from these countries are expected to report online once a day before 4pm to provide updates on their health status – or immediately call a health hotline (144) to report unusual clinical symptoms.
“This is a preventive measure for both Rwanda and non-Rwandan residents as well as for the health of the individuals who may find that they do have symptoms for the disease,” Mr Mugume said.
“Ebola has been successfully contained in many countries and as you know, travel restrictions were removed. But new cases were reported in some countries; so our message is a reminder – but there is no cause for alarm and no danger," he added.
Five of the six hit African countries had been declared Ebola-free by the World Health Organization (WHO) including Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Senegal, Mali and Liberia. Guinea has been on a countdown to be declared Ebola-free since November 10 when the last case of the viral disease was reported.
However despite being declared Ebola-free on May 9, 2015, Liberia identified a new string of infections on 19 November 2015, when three cases were confirmed.
The patients are reported to be from the same family and are currently undergoing treatment while 150 of their contacts are being monitored.
WHO earlier warned that although Africa is in a “very strong position with the epidemiology of Ebola right now,” the virus could persist in some individuals even when they have been declared healed.
“We have to make sure that we have the ability to rapidly find that, to rapidly detect it and rapidly respond to stop the flares. We have to be on guard, right through 2016, to make sure that any new emergences are stopped,” WHO stated shortly after the new incidents in Liberia were reported.
As of November 22, WHO reported 11,314 deaths from Ebola and 28,637 infections.