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Gambia calls off Guinea game amid Ebola crisis

Aug 8, 2014, 10:42 AM

The Gambia Handball Association has decided to call off an international friendly game with Guinea Conakry, amid public fear of the endemic Ebola outbreak that hit the West African country since March.

The Gambian association informed Observer Sports on Tuesday that they had invited the Guinea female national team for a one week stay in the country where they were expected to play their Gambian counterparts.

The Association through its secretary general Haruna Cham had informed this medium that they were aware of the outbreak and therefore had officially written to the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and the National Sports Council for approval. But Cham yesterday informed us that they have finally called off the game, adding that the decision was also communicated to the Guinean officials.

“We have already spoken to the Guinean association that the test game has been put on hold because we have still not received any official reply from the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and the National Sports Council,” Cham further told the Daily Observer.

When contacted by Observer Sports, Sanna Malang Sambou, the head of Disease Control at the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare has confirmed receipt of the Association’s request but emphasised that the Guinean team cannot be allowed into The Gambia.

According to him, they are trying to put up strong mechanisms to control the disease. Sambou added that though the WHO has not issued a travel ban, those countries seriously affected by the outbreak are already trying to control the movement of their citizens. “So we cannot allow people from the affected countries enter this country,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Health ministry Wednesday convened an emergency meeting on the disease with key stakeholders; ranging from airline companies, security agencies, the Gambia International Airline and the Civil Aviation Authority, GTBoard, senior health officials, the Office of the President and officials from the Ministry of Works, Transport and Infrastructure among others.

Addressing the meeting that was also attended by the Transport minister, Health Minister Omar Sey noted that the convergence is being held for stakeholders to come up with solutions and strategies to avert the disease from entering the country.

He pointed out that the whole world is concerned about Ebola, and as a country, Dr. Sey warned that airline operators should take it upon themselves to apply the international health regulations or risk ceasing operations in The Gambia.

It was reported that a Saudi man who was being treated for the disease-like symptoms died at a hospital in Jeddah on Wednesday. According to the BBC, if confirmed, this would be the first Ebola-related death outside Africa in an outbreak that has killed more than 900 people this year. The man recently visited Sierra Leone, one of four countries in the outbreak.

The World Health Organisation experts are meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, to discuss a response to the outbreak. The two-day meeting will decide whether to declare a global health emergency.

Ebola, a viral haemorrhagic fever, is one of the deadliest diseases known to humans, with a fatality rate of up to 90%. A WHO statement on Wednesday said 932 patients had died of the disease in West Africa so far, with most of the latest fatalities reported in Liberia.

Concern has also been growing over a number of new cases in Nigeria, the region’s most populous nation. On Wednesday, a nurse who treated an Ebola patient became the second person to die of the disease there.

Earlier this year, Saudi Arabia stopped issuing visas to Muslims from the affected West African countries, amid concerns that visiting pilgrims could spread the disease.

Meanwhile, the BBC further reported that two US aid workers who contracted Ebola in Liberia appear to be improving after receiving an unapproved medicine ahead of their evacuation back to the US. The British broadcaster added that it is not clear if the ZMapp drug, which has only been tested on monkeys, can be credited with their improvement.

Source Daily Observer