- The EAC Secretariat has called upon traders and travellers crossing border of Ebola-affected countries to take extra precaution, emphasizing that the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) threat is real.
- Those at the highest risk include people who have cared for an infected person as well as laboratory personnel working with bodily fluids of an Ebola patient.
- Communities need to be well prepared to prevent disease, detect it early, care for patients and take the right precautions during funerals.
- With adequate preparation, introduction of the virus can be contained before a large outbreak develops.
The East African Community (EAC) Secretariat has called upon the partner states to increase risk and crisis communication by involving all leaders such as in the community and religious institutions as well as the media in raising public awareness on Ebola. At the same time, the Secretariat calls upon traders and travellers crossing border of Ebola-affected countries to take extra precaution, emphasizing that the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) threat is real.
The unanticipated cases of the disease in regions previously considered non-endemic, coupled with inadequate infrastructure and susceptible, yet highly mobile populations, might have contributed to the outbreak, infecting over 60 times more individuals than any previous outbreak.
Communities need to be well prepared to prevent disease, detect it early, care for patients and take the right precautions
The Eastern Africa region has a population of 436,921,589, according to the United Nations. Within this region is the EAC, a regional partnership of six States with 150 million people and a combined gross domestic product of Sh7.4 trillion ($74.5 billion).
The outer border of this region is probably longer than that of the entire Western Europe, with each country having seven different countries with whom to deal with in matters of cross-border migration.
The concern is, does EAC have the capacity to monitor and control such a huge border? The movement across the porous border has a negative implication on the intensified screening to forestall the spread of Ebola, with increased cross-border infection risks. And hindering trade or travel could spur Ebola’s spread by driving the heavy traffic of merchants through illegal crossings where there are no infection screening measures.
Ebola virus was first described in 1976 near the Ebola River in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo. Since then, the virus has emerged periodically and infected people in several African countries. The current outbreak in the DRC has infected 3,204 people and killed 2,142, as of October 5, 2019.
Transmission of Ebola between humans can occur through the following ways:
- Direct contact through broken skin and mucous membranes with the blood, secretions, organs, or other body fluids of infected people.
- Indirect contact with environments contaminated with such fluids.
- Exposure to contaminated objects, such as needles.