Gov't Mulls Help for Koreans in Ebola-Stricken Africa

The government is considering sending medical personnel and epidemiologists to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, which are experiencing outbreaks of the deadly Ebola virus.

Staff at the Korea Center for Disease Control and Prevention briefed government officials on Monday on measures to prevent the spread of Ebola and said it could send medical staff and epidemiologists to West Africa if Korean citizens there face a threat of infection.

According to the Foreign Ministry, 858 Korean citizens live in four West African countries. In Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, for which the government has already issued travel warnings, there are 45, 24 and 88.

Nigeria, where one Ebola patient has been found but which has yet to be placed on the government's travel warning list, is home to 700 Koreans and diplomats. They include six staff of the Korea International Cooperation Agency.

A Foreign Ministry official said, "Most of the Korean citizens live far away from the border regions where the Ebola outbreaks have been concentrated and have no plans to return to Korea yet."

The official said the government will monitor the WHO's recommendations before slapping travel warnings on more West African countries.

Researchers demonstrate treating the Ebola virus in case it enters the country, at the Korea National Institute of Health in Cheongju, North Chungcheong Province on Monday. /News 1 Researchers demonstrate treating the Ebola virus in case it enters the country, at the Korea National Institute of Health in Cheongju, North Chungcheong Province on Monday. /News 1

Quarantine officials here are on heightened alert. According to KCDC staff at Incheon International Airport, seven direct flights a week arrive from West African countries, including four from Ethiopia and three from Kenya, each with 60 to 100 passengers aboard.

Quarantine officials are checking passengers and monitoring those who visited the Ebola-hit regions. None of them have shown symptoms so far.

Yang Byung-kook at the KCDC said, "If we discover a passenger with symptoms while passing through customs, we plan to transport them to one of 17 designated hospitals around the country for treatment."

englishnews@chosun.com / Aug. 05, 2014 11:16 KST