ADDIS ABABA, July 23 (Xinhua) -- The African Union (AU) and the World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday urged countries to refrain from closing borders or place any restrictions on travel and trade from the Ebola-affected countries.
The urgent call was made by the AU's Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) and the WHO Regional Office for Africa in a statement issued Tuesday, as they reiterated the need for all AU member countries to adhere to recommendations, emphasizing against possible restrictions on travel and trade with the Ebola-affected countries.
According to the AU, as of July 18, 2019, the Ministry of Public Health of the DRC reported 2,532 cases, in which some 2,438 confirmed and 94 probable, with 1,705 deaths and 718 cured, in an outbreak that is the second largest in the history of Ebola since it was discovered in 1976.
"No country should close its borders or place any restrictions on travel and trade, including general quarantine of travelers from the Ebola-affected countries, currently the DRC," the joint AU-WHO statement read.
According to the AU and WHO, such measures on restrictions on travel and trade from the Ebola-affected countries "compromises economies and impede response operations."
"There should be no requirement of certificates of Ebola vaccination for any movement across borders or for issuance of visas, as there is currently no licensed vaccine against Ebola," the joint statement read.
Noting that exit screening is recommended at international airports in affected countries, the two organizations also stressed that "entry screening at international airports or other ports of entry outside countries neighboring the DRC is not recommended as it is not effective and involves large amounts of resources."
"National authorities should work with airlines, airports and other transport and tourism industries to encourage communication and collaboration, and to ensure that the measures adopted are in line with WHO guidance for travel and transport during outbreaks," the joint statement read.
The joint call came after the WHO last week declared the ongoing Ebola virus disease outbreak in DRC as a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC).
The WHO, in declaring the DRC Ebola virus disease outbreak as PHEIC, mainly took into consideration the first confirmed case in Goma, a city of almost two million inhabitants and close to the border with Rwanda, and the gateway to the rest of DRC and the world, it was noted.
Noting that there have been five PHEIC declarations between 2009 and 2019, the two organizations also stressed that "the declaration of a PHEIC is a call to action."
"It is time for the African continent and indeed the world to redouble our efforts in solidarity with the DRC to end this outbreak and build a stronger health system," the joint statement read.
The AU, following the WHO's categorization of the Ebola virus outbreak as PHEIC, also on Saturday revealed its decision to deploy more healthcare experts to respond to the Ebola virus outbreak in the DRC.
"The AU will reactivate the African Voluntary Health Corps (AVoHC) and deploy them not just in the DRC but also in other countries within the region," John Nkengasong, Director of the Africa CDC, told a press conference at the AU headquarters in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa.
Africa CDC, which has been supporting response efforts in the DRC since August 2018, presently operates with 41 experts who were deployed in the field, some of whom are said to be AVoHC members.
The AU, which had previously deployed the AVoHC in West Africa to respond to the outbreak back in 2014 to 2015, said that the AVoHC "will be very useful in the current outbreak."