Ebola: Stopped at the border

EBOLA, a nasty disease which spreads only through direct contact with bodily fluids, is unlikely to become a pandemic, as The Economist reported last week. Even now, in the midst of the worst outbreak in history, it kills far fewer people than AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis or diarrhoea. But Ebola, which can cause its victims to bleed and vomit uncontrollably, and for which there is no cure, is an especially terrifying disease; fear of it is only heightened by the plethora of books and movies that depict its deadliness.Countries in west Africa, where the virus is still spreading, are taking extreme measures to limit its reach. Earlier this month, countries in the affected region began implementing the first cordons sanitaires in a century. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has cautioned against such curbs on travel and trade, arguing that they will lead to starvation and fuel shortages—a warning that is already proving true. Nevertheless, non-affected countries, including Chad, Kenya and South Africa, are closing their borders to travellers from the affected nations, and commercial airlines are cancelling flights. This is, alas, the wrong response, as we also explained last week:The economic costs of epidemics are often out of proportion to their death toll. The outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2003 is estimated to have caused over …

Link to article: www.economist.com/blogs/gulliver/2014/08/ebola?fsrc=rss

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