Ebola precautions boosted

By Hu Qingyun Source:Global Times Published: 2014-10-23 0:43:01

43 travelers in Guangdong test negative for infection

Two health workers go through training for a potential outbreak of Ebola in Qingdao, East China's Shandong Province, on Wednesday. Photo: CFP

China has been actively ramping up its precautions against Ebola by screening inbound travelers from epidemic-ridden regions, as global health experts warn of growing risks of the spread of Ebola.

No Ebola cases have been reported in China as of Wednesday.

On Tuesday, South China's Guangdong Province ruled out 43 suspected Ebola cases.

A total of 8,672 people from Ebola-ridden areas in Africa have entered Guangdong since August 23, with 5,437 of them discharged from medical observation so far, said Chen Yuansheng, director of the Guangdong Provincial Health and Family Planning Commission. 

The 43 people, who were cleared from Ebola suspicion on Tuesday, had been put under observation as their temperatures tested higher than 37.3 C when entering the Guangdong border. 

Chen noted that Guangdong is the destination for some 70 percent of travelers from West Africa to China.

Guangzhou, the capital city of Guangdong, receives over 160 non-stop flights from Africa per month. Meanwhile, many Africans enter the province after flight transfers at other neighboring international airports.

Moreover, the ongoing 116th session of Canton Fair, China's largest trade fair, drew a huge influx of foreign visitors to Guangzhou. Authorities have tightened examinations to avoid any possible spread of the disease.

Guangdong authorities assigned 27 hospitals and three disease control centers in the province to conduct temperature checks and other prevention measures on people who come from the virus-affected regions.

"We have designated several hotels to accommodate participants at Canton Fair who come from those regions, and they are having their temperatures tested twice a day," Chen said.

The deadly disease has stirred up concerns among the public.

An online rumor said an Ebola infection was confirmed in Ningbo, Zhejiang Province. It was refuted on Monday by local health authorities, who said the suspected infected Nigerian man tested negative for the virus.

A recent report from the Boston-based Laboratory for the Modeling of Biological and Socio-Technical Systems at Northeastern University claimed that China has the highest risk of an Ebola outbreak in Asia and would have an Ebola case reported by the end of October. 

"There is no need for the Chinese public to be afraid and nervous as the possibility of an Ebola outbreak in China is almost zero," Lu Hongzhou, an epidemiologist and vice-director of the Shanghai Public Health Clinical Center, told the Global Times.

After experiencing the SARS outbreak in 2003, the government and medical institutes have been more prepared regarding the prevention and containment of infectious diseases, Lu said.

"China has no infection sources so it can only be imported cases. The key to avoiding the outbreak is to strengthen border checks and identify any possible affected patients as early as possible," Lu said.

The Civil Aviation Administration of China has been issuing health cards to travelers who are from Ebola-ridden areas and will track their health situation, as the virus remains dormant for 21 days, Chen said.

China's National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC) has also demanded all health and disease control authorities as well as medical institutions to ensure sufficient precautions and prevention measures have been put in place by the end of October.

The outbreak of Ebola has claimed more than 4,500 lives in West Africa, and the WHO has warned of 5,000-10,000 new cases globally every week until December.

Elhadj As Sy, chief of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Wednesday said in Beijing that the epidemic will take at least four months to contain even if all necessary steps are taken.

However, Sy said closing borders will not effectively curb Ebola infections.

New measures will be rolled out in the US on Wednesday, which will see passengers arriving in the country from Ebola-hit Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea funneled into five airports with extra health checks.

The White House has said President Barack Obama remains open to a travel ban if public health experts advise it.

In an effort to aid the fight against Ebola, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang Tuesday said in a phone call with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon that China now is actively planning the next round of assistance, including boosting public health aid, with the aim of helping African countries improve their epidemic prevention and control ability.

Agencies contributed to this story

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