Ebola is an infectious and generally fatal disease marked by fever and severe internal bleeding, spread through contact with infected body fluids by a filovirus ( Ebola virus ), whose normal host species is unknown.
The Ebola virus is not airborne and people would have to come into contact with the bodily fluids like blood, sweat, vomit, urine, saliva or semen of an infected person. Ebola can’t be spread like flu through contact or breathing in the same air. This makes the risk of a travelers contracting Ebola very low in the absence of direct contact with the blood or body fluids of an infected person or animal.
On the other hand, countries that are affected by Ebola are very far geographically from Kenya (capital cities):
Guinea – 5,386 Kms
Liberia – 5,307 Kms
Nigeria – 3,900 Kms
Sierra Leone –7,760 Kms
According to Magical Kenya, The Ministry has implemented the following measures in order to prevent importation of cases into the country and prepare for early detection and appropriate response to mitigate the public’ health impact.
Precautionary measures by the Kenya Government – Ministry of Health
1. Despite there being no case of Ebola reported in Kenya, the Government through the Ministry of Health has constituted a multi agency Ebola Task Force which has been meeting for three months now to assess the situation at local, country, regional and global levels and advice the Ministry on response activities. This task force that comprises public health experts and other stakeholders will continue to meet regularly until the Ebola Outbreak is controlled.
2. The Ministry has established temporary holding rooms at the main airport, Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA), where cases determined to be high risk will be assessed.
3. All health care providers and the public have been alerted through the ministry about the outbreak in West Africa. The purpose is to enhance awareness and reinforce desirable behavior and practice to diminish chances of importation of the virus into the country.
4. Screening of travelers from/through West Africa: the Ministry is working with airlines to screen travelers who come from or transit through West Africa. For such travelers, a minimum package of information (including personal details, exact location of origin/transit, contact with potential Ebola Viral Hemorrhagic Fever Disease cases, presence of any suggestive signs and symptoms of Ebola and declaration of contact while in the country) are collected to aid personal risk assessment and daily follow-up for 21 days if they will still be resident in the country. Over 10,000 travelers from West Africa had been screened.
5. Information on Ebola: Ebola fact sheets and travelers information sheets indicating mode of infection , signs and symptoms, prevention and appropriate health seeking behavior have also been provided to health workers, incoming and outgoing travelers and to all airlines operating on the west African routes.
6. An isolation facility has been identified at Kenyatta National Hospital and additional isolation facilities will be made available at Mbagathi District Hospital in Nairobi. Assessment for potential isolation facilities is ongoing in Uasin Gishu County, Busia County, Kajiado County, Mombasa County and other major towns near ports of entry into Kenya.
7. The integrated pandemic preparedness and response plan has been activated at JKIA with the support of Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) and Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA).
8. The Ministry has secured special Personal Protective Equipment which are being distributed in strategic regional hospitals for use if needed. These will protect the Ministry staff who may attend to suspect cases. These include at least 5000 special full body suits that are used in situations of highly infectious material.
9. The Ministry has developed an Ebola Contingency Plan to guide the implementation of prevention, preparedness and response activities. This will create order in responding to the threat from the outbreak in West Africa and create synergy among the various actors.
10. 100 Health workers have been trained on Ebola Management and an additional 200 will be trained over the next 3 weeks. The ministry is currently exploring the possibility of holding a sub regional meeting involving all member states of the East African Community and Ethiopia to develop a common approach to the threat posed by Ebola outbreak in West Africa. The Ministry of Health will remain vigilant, and continue to work closely with both international and local stakeholders to strengthen the Ebola Outbreak preparedness and response plan.
For all travelers that are worried about it, you can now be sure that Kenya is safe.