While no cases of Ebola have been reported in South Africa, the country is ready for a possible outbreak, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said on Friday.
“It’s not that we are just starting now. We are just ramping up efforts to fight the virus that started in December,” he said.
“We are still having no Ebola in South Africa.”
A ministerial advisory committee on Ebola had been appointed comprising private health care professionals.
Motsoaledi said Cabinet had approved a budget of R32.5 million to support Ebola preparedness and response activities.
South Africa started in March and strengthened efforts at major airports, especially the Lanseria and OR Tambo International airports in Johannesburg.
“Private health care practitioners were also put on alert,” he said.
They were given a 24-hour number to contact the National Institute of Communicable Diseases if they encountered a patient who possibly had Ebola.
Officials at ports of entry had been trained to deal with the disease.
Motsoaledi said the reason tests were being done on people coming to South Africa was to “settle the nerves” of the media who caused a frenzy.
“We are testing to settle your nerves. I hope we did settle those nerves,” he said.
“It is not acceptable, ladies and gentlemen, to have a media frenzy whenever we have someone with a fever and who bleeds. Bleeding is part and parcel of what the medical personnel see every day.”
Motsoaledi said he realised that “unnecessary panic” could be caused if people did not have the right information.
According to the latest toll from the World Health Organisation, the deadly virus has killed 3439 people in West Africa since the start of the year. SAPA