Despite low risk of Ebola in SA, plan in place to tackle outbreak

Health workers are seen inside the 'red zone' of an Ebola treatment centre. (John Wessels, AFP)
Health workers are seen inside the 'red zone' of an Ebola treatment centre. (John Wessels, AFP)

South Africa is at a low risk for an Ebola outbreak, the Cabinet has said as the deadly virus ravages the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

According to Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu, International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor and Health Minister Zweli Mkhize both briefed the Cabinet this week about the outbreak, as well as the deaths caused by Ebola in the DRC and high risks posed to nearby countries.

"The disease is transmitted from person to person through direct contact with blood and body fluids of persons with the disease. According to the World Health Organisation, South Africa is classified as one of the low-risk countries in Africa," Mthembu said on Thursday.

ALSO READ: No, you won't get Ebola - experts agree that risk is low in South Africa

The Cabinet was also briefed on the state of readiness to deal with cases of Ebola that may arise in South Africa.

"Three separate risk assessments undertaken have confirmed the low risk Ebola profile status of South Africa. Critical health contingency measures have been implemented in our country including the designation of identified hospitals in all our provinces in the eventuality of us having to deal with Ebola.

"Apart from hospitals identified, the contingency measures include screening facilities in the ports of entry, communication and co-ordination as well as designated laboratories," Mthembu said.

"The Cabinet endorsed the contingency measures that have been put in place to ensure the country responds in the event the disease is picked up. We, nonetheless, want to assure the country that South Africa remains a low Ebola risk country."

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