BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s capital will suggest to people returning from regions affected by Ebola to quarantine themselves at home for 21 days, and to undergo twice daily temperature checks if they have had contact with patients, state media said on Wednesday.
China has not reported any confirmed cases of the deadly virus, though several suspected cases have ended up in hospital for observation.
The Ebola outbreak that began in March has killed nearly 5,000 people, the vast majority in West Africa. The disease has an incubation period of about three weeks, and only becomes contagious when a victim shows symptoms.
People returning to Beijing from Ebola-affected regions will have to undergo temperature checks at the airport and will be sent to hospital for tests if their temperature exceeds 37.3 degrees Celsius, the official Xinhua news agency reported.
Those without a fever but who have had contact with Ebola patients will have to have their temperatures checked twice a day for 21 days, it added.
People who have had no contact with Ebola patients will be recommended to quarantine themselves at home for 21 days, the report said.
Xinhua did not say what would happen if people refused to quarantine themselves.
“Beijing has experience with SARS and the H7N9 (bird flu) virus. Once there is a case of Ebola, we have the ability to control its spread,” city health official Zhao Tao told Xinhua.
State media have said the country’s border entry points have stepped up health checks, especially in the southern city of Guangzhou which is home to a large African community and has direct flights to the continent.
China’s health ministry has identified the main airports in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou as key in terms of risk, and has been focusing its initial health and temperature checks there.
However, the three African countries most affected by the outbreak - Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea - do not rank as major trading partners with China in Africa.
Ebola, which can cause fever, vomiting and diarrhea, spreads through contact with bodily fluids such as blood or saliva.
Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Nick Macfie