LIBERIAN container ship Hammonia Pacificum is reportedly under quarantine at the Port of Richards Bay following an Ebola virus scare.
The deadly virus has claimed 1013 lives in West Africa since February but no cases have yet been reported in South Africa.
According to vessel tracker Marine Traffic, the ship arrived in Richards Bay at around 5pm on Saturday and is currently still moored at the harbour. A more detailed clarification on the matter is still being awaited from the South African Revenue Services’ (SARS) Border Control Operational Coordinating Committee (BCOCC).
To keep the virus from seeping into South Africa through its ports, ships have been required to apply for quarantine clearance, or ‘free pratique’, from port authorities three days before their expected arrival. Shipping agents have also been urged to liaise closely with vessels and notify port health authorities of any suspected illness on board.
Today, Ministry of Health spokesperson, Joe Maila assured the public that there was no need to panic. ‘Since the outbreak of Ebola, we have been ensuring that people coming from the affected countries are checked. ‘The screening is our priority.’ ‘There is no case of Ebola in South Africa and, therefore, South Africans should not panic,’ Maila said.
Since the epidemic outbreak was detected in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria in February, 1848 suspected cases have been reported by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Ebola Key facts
- Ebola virus disease (EVD), formerly known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever, is a severe, often fatal illness in humans.
- EVD outbreaks have a case fatality rate of up to 90%.
- EVD outbreaks occur primarily in remote villages in Central and West Africa, near tropical rainforests.
- The virus is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads in the human population through human-to-human transmission.
- Fruit bats of the Pteropodidae family are considered to be the natural host of the Ebola virus.
- Severely ill patients require intensive supportive care. No licensed specific treatment or vaccine is available for use in people or animals.
*Information by The World Health Organisation (WHO)