Minister of Health and Child Care, David Parirenyatwa, Wednesday urged Zimbabweans seeking prayers in Nigeria to provisionally suspend the visits as government intensify to lessen the risk of Ebola outbreak.
Zimbabweans flock to the West African country mainly to attend services by the popular Prophet TB Joshua of the Synagogue Church of all Nations.
“Even if it means that you are going there for prayer we suggests that you pray here for the time being, so that it helps to lessen the risk of the number of people who come in,” Parirenyatwa said.
Parirenyatwa was responding to Bulawayo Central MP, Dorcas Sibanda’s question during the questions without notice session on whether government had banned travels to Nigeria.
The minister of Health and Child Care said at one stage, last week, Zimbabwe received 60 people from Nigeria who were coming from TB Joshua’s church.
“We are not lax at our borders especially at the International Airports in Harare, Bulawayo and Victoria Falls. We are particularly cautious and putting stringent measures to screen people who are coming through from West Africa through these borders.
“To us, 60 people are a lot to monitor. Therefore, the risk is immense, the more people who go there from this country and then come back, the riskier it is for the country,” Parirenyatwa said.
Parirenyatwa said anybody who has come from West Africa, “particularly from those four countries, we screen and monitor them for a continual period of 21 days and look at what symptoms they may develop.”
He added: “Our health systems are going to be shaken immensely and have already been shaken. So, the best thing is to prevent and to prevent it, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said, let us contain the Ebola virus at source and the source is those five countries that I talked about.”
He urged every Member of Parliament and every Zimbabwean to guard against the danger of getting Ebola into this country.
“This is why we are strongly advising that even if you are going for prayers please, defer them until we advise appropriately,” he said.
Parirenyatwa said government’s major task is to prevent Ebola from coming into the country.
The Ebola outbreak started in West Africa in four countries, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Nigeria and of late, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) right next door to Zimbabwe, in terms of a distance away through Zambia.
Parirenyatwa said the Ebola virus originated in the DRC in 1976. “It is called Ebola because it was discovered at the Ebola River which is in the DRC.”
The minister of Health and Child Care said Ebola is not airborne like flue, however, there must be extremely close contact where one then exchange sweat, mucous, saliva, blood, semen, vomit, diarrhoea those sorts of fluids and particularly with somebody who has died from Ebola.
About 90 percent of people who contract Ebola are killed by the disease. The virus causes internal and external bleeding and damages the immune system and organs. The virus may be contracted through contact with blood or bodily fluids of the infected.
Ebola, the deadliest virus known to man, has killed at least 1,145 people in Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia since it broke out in March.