The deadly Ebola virus has not found its way to Colombia, the country’s health minister said Thursday after admitting three Colombian nationals who were suspected of having brought the virus from Africa.
According to Health Minister Alejandro Gaviria, of the three Colombians who were subjected to tests, two were sent home while one is held under observation. However, Gaviria said that the patient held under observation does not show Ebola symptoms.
“There are three Colombians who had come from Africa — one from Sierra Leone and two from Liberia –and presented possible symptoms. However, two of them have been released and the other continues to be studied only because of the fact he came from one of the countries where the virus is latent,” Gaviria told press.
The minister stressed that a number of hospitals throughout Colombia have been preparing the possibility of having to treat Ebola patients while Immigration and Customs officials are on heightened alert and are examining travelers coming from western Africa where the virus has killed more than 3,860, according to the BBC.
President Juan Manuel Santos told press last month that “the instructions have been given to step up border security. All the epidemiological control that needs to be done on the border will be done, and it is being done as a preventative measure.”
The president claimed that the risk of the disease spreading in Colombia were low, but that steps should be taken to prevent the spread of the highly infectious disease.
Colombia is not alone in taking preventive steps against Ebola as a number of nations in South America have begun taking precautions to prevent the potential spread of the virus from an international traveler.
Argentina has probably gone the furthest in preparing for a potential outbreak, designating seven hospitals as “Ebola-only” quarantine centres should any cases be found in the country.
The infection by a traveler arriving in a port or airport is real, as was shown in Nigeria, where a Liberian passenger brought the virus to Lagos, infecting at least 11 others in the country. The passenger later died from the infection.