Ebola screening at the New Zealand border has been scaled back, with Sierra Leone recently declared free of the disease.

As a result, additional border screening of travellers who have recently been in Sierra Leone has been lifted

Screening for travellers arriving from West African countries affected by the Ebola outbreak was introduced in August last year, as part of local and international efforts to control the outbreak.

"The Ministry of Health (MOH) has greatly appreciated the support from New Zealand Customs which has been instrumental in implementing the additional border screening measures for Ebola," said MOH Acting Director of Public Health, Dr Stewart Jessamin.


"The two agencies are continuing to work closely on the management of border health risks."

As of December 8, 167 people were identified at the border as having visited an Ebola-affected country in the previous 30 days, she said.

"The Ministry of Health is continuing to monitor the situation in West Africa, where Guinea is now the only country yet to be declared free of Ebola transmission."

Addiotional border screening will continue for travellers who have recently visited Guinea, until it is declared Ebola-free by the World Health Organisation.

A country must have no new cases of the disease for 42 days before it can be declared free of Ebola transmission.

There have been 11,315 deaths from the diease worldwide as of November 29, with 28,637 cases of infection overall. The first outbreaks occured in remote villages in Central Africa, near tropical rainforests. However, the recent outbreak in West Africa has affected major urban areas, as well as rural.

Two New Zealand nurses, Donna Collins and Sharon Mackie, were kept in quarantine in Morroco for 21 days, after working at an Ebola treatment facility in Sierre Leone.

The MOH's advice to any traveller who feels unwell after returning from overseas is to call Healthline on 0800 611 116 or phone their GP or hospital prior to visiting.


Ebola facts

• Ebola virus disease (EVD), formerly known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever, is a severe, often fatal illness in humans.

• The virus is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads in the human population through human-to-human transmission.

• The average EVD case fatality rate is around 50 per cent. Case fatality rates have varied from 25 per cent to 90 per cent in past outbreaks.

• There are currently no licensed Ebola vaccines but 2 potential candidates are undergoing evaluation.

Source: World Health Organisation