Angola: With Ebola Around the Corner, Borders Are Closed

Due to a new outbreak of the ebola virus in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Angolan government has decided to shut down the border the two countries share, in an attempt to prevent the deadly virus entering the nation's territory. Thus, the constant migratory movement between Lunda Norte (a province in the northeast of the country) and DR Congo has been summarily suspended. It should be noted that the province of Lunda Norte is a gold mining area, a magnet for migrant workers. Nelo de Carvalho [pt] writes at Blog do Nelo Ativado about the border restrictions and the challenges the government faces:

“Dizer que as fronteiras devem ser fechadas temporáriamente e que ninguém deve entrar e sair para fora do país, usando aquela direcção ou região fronteiriça. Nem mesmo o mosquito da dengue e se entrar, deve ser perseguido. É estratégia que qualquer infante usaria nas suas horas de brincadeira de soldado ou guerrilheiro, ou até de general. Por isso, não temos autoridade nem competência para dar palpites. A não ser desejar sorte e torcer para que tudo saia bem. Neste início de ano, aos angolanos desejamos sorte, com ébola ou sem ébola”.

“To say that the borders must be temporarily closed and that no one should enter or leave the country, using that direction or border. Not even the dengue mosquito may enter, and should it come, it must be pursued. It is a strategy that any infant would take in his hours playing soldier or guerrilla, or even a general. Therefore, we have no authority or jurisdiction to guess at it. We can only wish for luck and hope that everything works out well. At the beginning of the year, we wish the best of luck to Angolans, with or without ebola.”

According to the Angolan Secretary of Health, the government is preparing to inform the public about the plan put in place to prevent infection by this powerful virus. These measures will be implemented, in addition to Lunda Norte, in the Moxico, Malanje, Uige and Lunda Sul provinces. It is believed there have been about 40 cases of ebola, with over 10 deaths reported in the Democratic Republic of Congo in the last two months.

Two years ago, also coming from DR Congo, namely from the Western Kasai province, the virus caused the death of about 180 people. The Lampeirota blog lamments this situation:

“De vez em quando a doença é falada. É costume meu não ficar a pensar no assunto, escudada na ideia de que é improvável que ela me apanhe a jeito.

É incorrecto. Hoje já não podemos ter certezas dessas. Tudo chega a todo o lado, rapidamente.

Lamento muito por aquela gente que está a defrontar-se com tal inimigo.

Não é a morte que me assusta. É o caminho até ela”

“From time to time, they speak about the disease. I don't have the habit of thinking about it, I shield behind the idea that it is unlikely to catch me off guard.

This [way of thinking] is wrong. Today we can no longer be sure of things like this. It reaches everywhere, quickly.

I am very sorry for those people who are facing this enemy.

It is not death that scares me. It is the road towards it “

According to the WHO representative in Angola, Diosdado Nsue-Micawg, it is suspected that the handling of dead monkeys in the forests of DR Congo is the basis of the reappearance of the disease. Although fortunately there are no cases of Ebola in Angola, the health secretary says the country is prepared to deal with any eventuality because of its experience with Marburg haemorrhagic fever, a less dangerous virus similar to ebola.

This is the fourth time that the ebola virus has broken out in DR Congo, since the first in 1976. The highly infectious disease causes fever, vomiting, diarrhea and internal and external bleeding. In 2005 329 people died from Marburg in Angola's northern town of Uige, close to the border with DR Congo.

Scanning electron micrograph (SEM) of the RNA filovirus that causes Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever. Photo courtesy CDC/Cynthia Goldsmith. By Flickr user hukuzatuna

Translated from Portuguese into English by Paula Góes


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