Fijians safe from Ebola virus, says Health Ministry

THE Health Ministry is adamant that the chances of the Ebola virus entering Fiji remain low because of Fiji’s geographical location and the lack of any direct global trade connection between Fiji and West Africa.

Health Ministry spokesman Sunil Chandra said although the World Health Organization projected that Ebola cases in Africa could reach 20,000 in the next six to nine months, the risk of the disease being imported to Fiji was minimal.

“Fiji’s geographical position as a travellers hub and its modest health capacity in the SouthWest Pacific requires the country to institute early measures to mitigate and subdue the prevailing threat of Public Health emergencies of international and regional concern especially Ebola and polio to Fiji and other countries in the South West Pacific,” Mr Chandra said.

“The ministry acknowledges that if the exotic Ebola virus disease was to enter Fiji, it would do so via an infected traveller entering the country’s airport, given the efficiency of aviation in moving large amounts of people across borders globally.”

However, the ministry is pleading with members of the public to hold off travel plans to Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo and Senegal as these are hot spot countries for the disease.

“For those who have family members in the above mentioned countries, the risk of contracting Ebola is minimal unless they reside in hot spots for the disease in that country or are working with animals (especially bats or monkeys) or involved with health work,” he said.

Mr Chandra said members of the public would be notified if the threat level changed.