Determined to keep the spread of the Ebola virus away from its shores, the small island nation of Cape Verde located off the coast of west Africa is taking preventative measures to stop the spread of the disease, including reportedly quarantining vessels arriving from the affected countries until the maximum incubation period for the disease has expired.
According to reports in the media, Cape Verde authorities have quarantined a Chinese-flagged ship that departed Sierra Leone, one of the hardest hit nations by the virus, on July 31 despite the fact that no one onboard is exhibiting any symptoms of the disease. The reports state that the quarantine order was given by Health Minister Cristina Fontes Lima, who ordered that the ship not be released until August 21, exactly 21 days after its departure from West Africa, even after health inspectors boarded the ship and confirmed none of the crew were ill.
According to the World Health Organization, the Ebola virus has an incubation period of 2 to 21 days, that is, the time interval from infection with the virus to onset of symptoms.
On August 7, Cape Verde’s Ministry of Health issued a statement saying that although it has so far not recorded any cases of the disease, it will take every precaution necessary to prevent the disease from reaching its shores, particularly with regards to border control i.e. ports and airports. The statement said that the country had initiated a contingency plan for screenings and the handling of passengers who have visited one or more of the effected countries within the last 21 days.
As of August 15, the recent Ebola outbreak in West Africa has been blamed for 1,145 deaths in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria, with 2,127 reported cases, according to WHO.
Earlier this month, the shipping industry was cautioned over the recent Ebola outbreak and offered guidance to vessel Masters and crews calling on the affective countries on how to take precautionary measures to protect themselves from the spread of the deadly disease.
Cape Verde, officially the Republic of Cabo Verde, is an island country spanning an archipelago of 10 volcanic islands in the central Atlantic Ocean located approximately 350 miles off the coast of West Africa.