Rwanda advises citizens against travel to Ebola-hit areas in DRC

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KIGALI, Aug. 1 (Xinhua) -- All travels to Ebola-hit areas in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) should be avoided due to the Ebola outbreak in the country, Rwandan Health Minister Diane Gashumba said Thursday.

"Unessential travels to eastern DRC, including cross-border trade should be highly avoided. Rwandans should think twice before crossing to DRC just to buy or sell a few pair of shoes or a few food stuff items," said Gashumba while addressing a press conference in Rwandan capital Kigali.

She reiterated that Rwanda's border with DRC remains open, adding that the government would issue a statement in case of a temporary closure at the border.

Traffic at the border slowed down on Thursday morning as measures were put in place to reinforce screening procedures and public safety at entry points, she said.

The minister also cautioned against illegal crossings from or to DRC.

She emphasized the need of seeking immediate medical advice when falling ill during or immediately after traveling to DRC.

The presidency's office of DRC said in a statement earlier on Thursday that Rwanda has closed its border with its western neighbor after a man died of Ebola in the eastern DRC city of Goma, which borders Rwanda to the east.

The man, in his 40s, has tested positive for the deadly virus and died on Wednesday in the populous city of Goma. He was the second confirmed Ebola case in the city.

The DRC health authorities announced late Wednesday night the confirmation of a third case in Goma.

This week marked one year since the start of the ongoing Ebola outbreak in the DRC that has already killed more than 1,700 people, making it the second worst Ebola outbreak in history.

Rwanda has a detailed National Preparedness Plan for Ebola in place and has trained health workers in early detection and response, educated communities about Ebola, vaccinated health workers in high-risk areas, equipped health facilities, and continues to conduct simulation exercises to maintain a high level of readiness.

Screening for Ebola symptoms at points of entry has been ongoing since the beginning of the outbreak in DRC, and has been reinforced since the confirmation of a case in Goma.

An Ebola Treatment Center was put in place in the country and 23 isolation units are being prepared in hospitals in 15 priority districts. Ebola response simulation exercises are on a regular basis within the community, borders, airport and treatment center to test Rwanda's preparedness in response to a case, which includes emergency operations center activation, active surveillance, case management and laboratory testing.

About 3,000 health workers in high-risk areas have been vaccinated as a preventive measure, and over 23,000 people including doctors, nurses, hospital staff, community health workers, religious leaders, Red Cross volunteers and security organs have been trained. Enditem

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