African migrants are “Trojan horses of Ebola” a group of Italian doctors has said.
The remark was made in a petition that 300 doctors from Lombardia, a region in northern Italy, sent to the country’s health minister in which they warn that African migrants could cause an Ebola outbreak in the peninsula.
“As you might well know, the Ebola virus is widespread in some African countries where the situation is ‘out of control’ according to the [United Nations],” the letter read.
“This means that the information we have about numbers of deaths and infected people is not reliable. You said we should not create scaremongering, however Ebola has been dubbed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as the ‘most grave health emergency of modern times'”, said the doctors, led by Giulio Scigliano.
“Italy has a considerable amount of migrants from Africa, and every arrival is a potential Ebola Trojan horse that can cause a tragedy.
“The thousands of desperate Africans that every day reach our coasts are sometimes from unknown areas. It is sufficient that just one of them is infected, to cause an outbreak on the overcrowded boat. The infected person might be then thrown into the sea and the others migrant, who have been infected, will look healthy as Ebola’s incubation period is of 21 days,” the doctors continued.
“The measures you adopted are the same of other European countries. However, putting in quarantine infected people is efficient only if it’s done at the right time, which means before they come into contact with others.”
Scigliano justified the letter by saying that the health minister is addressing the Ebola problem in a political way, and not from a health point of view. He then accused Italian authorities of a “deadly mix of political demagoguery and irresponsibility.”
Ebola myths debunked
Ebola is contracted by contact with infected bodily fluids and its symptoms include fever, vomiting, and diarrhoea. The current virus outbreak is the worst in history, and has killed more than 5,300 people in West Africa since January 2014, leading to panic and misinformation about the virus.
Although thousands of people have died after being infected, Ebola is not as easy to contract as many fear.
It is estimated that in West Africa, one Ebola patient infects two healthy people. However, the rate of contagion for diseases such as Sars is four people for every infected patient, and for Measles it is 18 people for each patient.
Many countries are banning flights from Ebola-hit nations Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone, as a result of growing concern that the deadly virus could be spread to other countries if people from affected areas are allowed to travel.
However, a ban on flights from Ebola-hit areas would only exacerbate the already problematic situation in West Africa, which will be isolated from the rest of the world.
Several public health officials said the ban is not necessary, and implementing screening at airports would be enough.
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