Australian gov't scaling back Ebola screening at airports

Australian gov't scaling back Ebola screening at airports
SYDNEY, Nov. 12 (Xinhua) -- The Australian government is scaling back its screening of Ebola at all international airports as the risks from the disease have reduced.

Those travelling from Ebola infected countries will still be assessed through standard screening protocols, government authorities said in a statement on Thursday, however, passengers will no longer be required to fill-out an Ebola travel history card or have their temperature checked.

Australia's down grading of screening measures came after the World Health Organization declared the Ebola Virus transmission had been stopped in Sierra Leone earlier this week, which along with Liberia, has now achieved the first objective of the third phase of the organization's response efforts.

"The country has now entered a 90-day period of enhanced surveillance, which is scheduled to conclude on Feb. 5, 2016," which includes a rapid reporting and detection system in unaffected areas, the WHO said in its weekly Ebola situation report on Wednesday.

Blood samples or oral swaps will be collected from any individual with symptoms compatible with Ebola who died within 14 days, or from victims whose cause of death is undetermined.

In what may be the beginning of the countdown to the end of the epidemic in West Africa that's sickened more than 28,000 people, killing over 11,000, new cases of Ebola were reported in Guinea last week.

It's the first week that none of the Ebola affected countries in West Africa have recorded a case, the WHO said, though it doesn't mean the country is Ebola free as there remains a high near-term risk of cases that haven't been detected yet.

Four cases were reported in Guinea over the past 21 days, though all from the same household, yet health workers are watching everyone who'd been close to those patients.

"All 69 contacts currently being followed in Guinea are scheduled to complete their 21-day follow-up period on Nov.14," the WHO said.

"However, 60 of the contacts are considered to be high risk, and one contact from Forecariah has been lost to follow up with the past 42 days. Therefore, there remains a near-term risk of further cases among both registered and untraced contacts."

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