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Kenya on high alert over Ebola outbreak in DRC

Kenya is on high alert following an Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) amid fears its spread could hurt the tourism and travel industry. The Ministry of Health has started screening all travellers at entry points including Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Busia and Malaba, Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki said Wednesday.

“In these places, we have installed thermal guns to detect any person with elevated temperatures,” said Ms Kariuki in a statement.

At least 17 people have died in an area in northwestern DRC where health officials have now confirmed an outbreak of Ebola. The disease causes fever, flu-like pains, bleeding, vomiting and diarrhoea and it is transmitted through blood, vomit, diarrhoea and other bodily fluids.

The worst Ebola epidemic in history ended in West Africa just two years ago after killing more than 11,300 people and infecting some 28,600 as it rolled through Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. It stopped travel to the continent, hurting Kenya’s tourism that was already reeling from Al Shabaab attacks. Kenya Airways also dipped into losses in 2014 following the reduced travel.

Wednesday, an official at the Kenya Airports Authority confirmed that surveillance at the ports of entry was high especially for people travelling from the DRC. The CS added that the ministry has established the National Health Emergencies Council to act expeditiously to prevent Ebola spreading.

She said that protective equipment from the WHO and the Ministry of Health issued in the last outbreak is still being used in surveillance.

“Health officers have been trained and deployed to the airports to test all passengers for possible symptoms of Ebola. High fever, vomiting and dehydration are the first symptoms experienced by patients so we are looking out for these,” she said.

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