The Chadian government has said it will follow in South Africa’s footsteps and introduce travel restrictions to Nigeria and other countries suffering from the Ebola Virus Disease outbreak.
Prime Minister Kalzeubet Payimi Deubet said the country would close its border with Nigeria as part of efforts to prevent Ebola from entering the country.
He said the decision would have an “economic impact” on the region, but it was necessary for “public health needs.”
This announcement by Chad comes after South Africa banned entry to the country to all non-citizens travelling from Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, while Liberia has quarantined entire neighbourhoods to try to stop the spread of the deadly virus.
But, the World Health Organisation officials have warned that the suspension of flights and imposition of travel restrictions are unhelpful and could undermine the capacity to respond. While advising countries to perform exit screening at airports, seaports and major border crossings, the WHO is against any ban on international travel or trade.
Gregory Hartl, a WHO spokesman said, “If you try to shut down air travel and sea travel, you risk affecting to a huge extent the economy, people’s livelihoods and their ability to get around without stopping the virus from traveling. You can’t ship goods in; sometimes these goods are basic staples people need to survive, food and fuel.”
He emphasised that official border closures would constrain resources to address the epidemic and would not stop all means of travel outside of affected areas.
According to a representative for the WHO Travel and Transport Task Force, Daniel Menucci, the travel ban will restrict humanitarian efforts and create more problems than it will solve.
He said, “Any discontinuation of transport will affect humanitarian aid, doctors, nurses and human resources entering the country, the transfer of biological sampling and equipment for hospitals; all of this needs international transporting, international airlines. This will create more problems in helping the countries most affected.”
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