The African Union (AU) has cautioned against moves to curb travel to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) amid heightened fears over the recent outbreak of the Ebola virus in the country.
According to the AU which spoke through a top health official, the continental body does not subscribe to the imposition of any restrictions on travels to anyone going into or coming outside of the DRC.
“We want to be sure that the international community and member states in Africa do not impose any restrictions on travels to anyone going into or coming outside of the DRC,” John Nkengasong, director of the AU’s Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said on Friday.
Doing so would “impede our ability to effectively control the virus”, Nkengasong told reporters at the AU headquarters in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa.
AU caution comes after the United Nations health agency, World Health Organisation (WHO) sounded a global alarm over the recent outbreak of Ebola in the DRC.
WHO says the Ebola outbreak in the DRC is a global public health emergency, and the announcement comes just days after the epidemic spread to a major urban hub for the first time.
The declaration was made by WHO on Wednesday following a meeting of its emergency committee in the Swiss city of Geneva.
Thus far, DRC’s health ministry says the current Ebola outbreak has killed more than 1,700 people – more than two-thirds of those who contracted it – since it emerged in the country’s eastern North Kivu and Ituri provinces last August.