Senegal closes border over Ebola

A Nigerian port health official uses a thermometer on a worker at the arrivals hall of Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos, Nigeria, Wednesday, Aug. 6, 2014. Airports around the world are screening West African passengers to see if they have a fever

Senegal has closed its border with Guinea because of the deadly Ebola outbreak, despite warnings that such measures are counter-productive.

Senegal also banned flights and ships from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone – the three worst hit countries.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says travel bans do not work, especially if they stop doctors going to help tackle the crisis.

Senegal’s capital, Dakar, is a regional hub for West Africa.

It is likely that many doctors and medical supplies arriving from Europe or the US would pass through there before going to the affected countries.

On Thursday, South Africa banned citizens of the three countries from entering its territory and banned non-essential outgoing travel to them.


Ebola Virus Disease (EVD)

A fruit bat is pictured in 2010 at the Amneville zoo in France. Fruit bats are believed to be a major carrier of the Ebola virus but do not show symptoms

  • Symptoms include high fever, bleeding and central nervous system damage
  • Fatality rate can reach 90% – but current outbreak has about 55%
  • Incubation period is two to 21 days
  • There is no vaccine or cure
  • Supportive care such as rehydrating patients who have diarrhoea and vomiting can help recovery
  • Fruit bats, a delicacy for some West Africans, are considered to be virus’ natural host


WHO spokesman Gregory Hartl told the BBC’s Newsday programme that the borders of the affected countries were porous, so any ban would be “impossible to enforce”.

“All you end up doing is restricting the kind of legitimate travel which is needed in order to continue to help these countries beat the Ebola outbreak,” he said.

Senegal first closed its border with Guinea in March when the outbreak first started.

A patient is treated

The current outbreak is the deadliest since Ebola was discovered in 1976

It was reopened in May after the situation in Guinea seemed to have stabilised but there has been a recent increase in the number of cases in the country.

Cameroon, Ivory Coast and Kenya have also imposed travel bans.

The WHO says the risk of spreading Ebola through air travel is low as sick people are unlikely to travel.

However, this is how the virus was spread from Liberia to Nigeria.

Ebola has no known cure but some affected people have recovered after being given an experimental drug, ZMapp, however, supplies are now exhausted.

Some strains of the virus can kill up to 90% of those infected but in the current outbreak, the fatality rate is about 55%.

It is spread through bodily fluids.

Ebola casualties

Up to 18 August


Total death toll

  • 576 Liberia

  • 396 Guinea

  • 374 Sierra Leone

  • 4 Nigeria