Rwanda imposes Ebola checks on travellers from US and Spain

Rwanda has boosted travel restrictions to stem the spread of the Ebola virus, ordering travellers who have been in the United States and Spain to send daily updates, the health minister said Wednesday.

"Every day... they should call us or send an Internet message," stating their health condition, Health Minister Agnes Binagwaho told AFP.

The requirement applies to all travellers who have been in the US or Spain within the past three weeks. Messages should be sent for the first 21-days they are in Rwanda, she said.

It also applies to Rwandan citizens who had been in the US or Spain.

An American visitor to Rwanda, Colleen Kate, 27, said the measure might increase confidence that Kigali was taking action, but added the checks were hard to implement practically.

"I'm not a doctor, it is hard to take a temperature on the phone, they have to trust you," she said, adding that she had not been able to connect via telephone and would send an update by email.

"I don't think it will make a big difference, but people may feel better if they know that Rwanda is taking measures," Kate said.

Many visitors come to Rwanda to see the endangered mountain gorillas, but tour guides said the industry had been badly hit by fears of Ebola, even though there have been no cases in east Africa.

"There is no Ebola in Rwanda, but people believe that Africa is one block, so they fear to come," said Osborn Schedruch, who heads the tourism company Rwanda Eco-Tours.

Visitors who have been to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone within the last 21 days are barred from entry to Rwanda, which is screening all arriving travellers for Ebola.

Rwandan citizens who have travelled to the three west African countries are placed under quarantine on arrival.

The deadliest-ever outbreak of Ebola has claimed more than 4,500 lives in west Africa, and experts warn the rate of infections could reach 10,000 a week by early December.

There have been isolated Ebola cases of health workers in the United States and Spain, who caught the virus from those infected in west Africa.

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