People who have recently traveled to regions struck by an Ebola virus outbreak will not be permitted a visa to Colombia, the South American country announced Tuesday.
The decision by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on recommendation of the National Health Institute is a measure to strengthen the security of the country in the face of resurfacing Ebola cases outside of western Africa where Ebola has killed more than 4,000 over the past few months.
Although there exists no evidence for the presence of Ebola in Colombia, the government is seeking to reinforce prevention against the spreading of the virus.
Key facts about the Ebola virus
All candidates for visa who in the past four weeks visited the countries most affected with Ebola, such as Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea and Nigeria, will not be allowed to Colombia.
The National Health Institute is developing an epidemiological questionnaire to be used by Colombian consulates during the visa application process. The set of questions is designed to recognize the potential risk of the virus in all applicants.
Citizens of the 92 countries exempted from the visa requirements, as well as Colombians who traveled to the Ebola-affected zone, are to undergo specific procedures at the moment of entry to Colombia. The procedure involves epidemiological tests as well as establishing means of traceability of individual within Colombia.
Such measures are a response to events on last Friday, when three travelers from Sierra Leone and Liberia were investigated for potential of Ebola virus. While in two of the instances the possibility of infection was altogether discarded, the third individual remains under a 21-day-long medical observation.
As emphasized, the reasons for further detention are not the symptoms of the virus, but have to do solely with individuals previous stay in the countries at risk.
“The cases are not suspicious. They are simply people who travelled to places where Ebola is present. That is the reason for their medical observation” insisted the vice Minister of Health, Fernando Ruiz in a press conference.
“The three cases are not under strict surveillance. Their temperature is measured two times a day for 21 days. At this moment, we are not alerted or worried. The individuals seem healthy. Two of them already completed their observation period” added the Minister of Health, Alejandro Gaviria.
Colombian Ministry of Health and Social Welfare follows the directives by the World Health Organization about the early detection of Ebola virus in suspected or probable cases.
- Colombia niega visa a personas que hayan visitado zonas afectadas por el ébola (Vanguardia)
- Sanos, dos de los tres colombianos en estudio tras estadía en países africanos con Ébola (Ministerio de Salud y Proteccion Social)
- 4000 Deaths And Counting: The Ebola Epidemic In 4 Charts (Forbes)