Mali steps up border controls after Ebola case arrives from Guinea


Mali said it was reinforcing health controls at border posts but has no plans to close its frontiers after a man with Ebola arrived from Guinea and infected others including a nurse who has died of the virus.

President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta also urged the World Health Organisation (WHO) and health services in Mali and neighbouring states to set up a permanent information exchange to disseminate information about public health and hygiene.

The worst outbreak of the virus on record has claimed at least 5,160 lives in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea and has led to a global watch for cases outside the region. Mali shares an 800 km (500 mile) border with Guinea.
“The president of the republic has asked the prime minister to urgently look at the entire system put in place to fight Ebola and to strengthen health controls at the different frontier posts,” a government statement said late on Wednesday.

The nurse’s death on Tuesday prompted the quarantine of more than 90 people including U.N. peacekeepers. In its first case, a two-old-girl infected with Ebola in Guinea arrived in Mali and died last month.

Mali must now trace others who had contact with the nurse and three others infected, just as an initial group of people linked to the girl completed their 21-day quarantine on Tuesday. Ebola’s maximum incubation period is 21 days.

Senior health ministry official Ousmane Doumbia told journalists the government was keeping borders open in line with WHO guidelines.

The man, a Muslim imam from the border town of Kouremale, was never tested for Ebola. In a series of rites that may have exposed many mourners to the deadly virus, his highly contagious body was washed in a Bamako mosque and returned to Guinea for burial without precautions against Ebola.

The WHO said there were now four confirmed and probable Ebola deaths in Mali, adding that one was a person who visited the imam in hospital. A doctor at the Pasteur Clinic where the nurse worked is also suspected of having contracted Ebola.