Asylum seekers in Switzerland who arrive from Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea and left one of these countries within the past 21 days are being further investigated by authorities about a potential exposure to Ebola. They may be placed under surveillance depending on their situation.
Mona Neidhart from the Federal Office of Public Health told swissinfo.ch on Thursday that all asylum seekers from the three West African countries would first be asked when they had left their home country. If it was longer than three weeks prior – the maximum incubation period – and if they did not show symptoms, they would continue to the registration centre as normal. Otherwise they may be placed under surveillance, if deemed to be the appropriate measure.
Ebola, transmitted by contact with an infected person or animal, is believed to have sickened more than 6,200 people in West Africa, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday. Nearly 3,000 deaths have been linked to the disease.
The only confirmed case of Ebola in Switzerland was in 1995: a Basel zoologist who had contracted the disease was subsequently cured.
On Wednesday, the Federal Office of Public Health said tests on the first suspected case of Ebola in Switzerland had come back negative and the man did not have the virus, although the tests would be repeated to be sure.
The man, who had left Guinea for France on September 15 and arrived in Switzerland on September 17, had been quarantined in Saint-Loup following his arrival after he told officials at the asylum centre that a member of his family had died of Ebola.
In his first week in Lausanne University Hospital he showed no symptoms and was thus not contagious, according to the health office. One week after arrival he developed a fever and was transferred to Lausanne according to the criteria set out by the health office.
On Monday, an international health worker bitten by an infected patient in Sierra Leone was flown to Geneva University Hospital for observation.