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U of M on watch for virus

Curbs travel for students from countries with Ebola

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THE University of Manitoba said Wednesday it is closely monitoring the Ebola situation as international students and other students who have travelled this summer arrive on campus.

The university is following federal health guidelines by restricting travel by students arriving from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, said communications director John Danakas.

It was not immediately known if any students from those countries are enrolled for the fall session that starts next week.

U of M said it "is closely monitoring advisories from Manitoba Health, Healthy Living and Seniors (MHHLS), the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) regarding the Ebola virus disease outbreak in West Africa.

"According to PHAC, the risk in Canada is considered very low, with no reported cases," the university said.

Danakas said U of M "will provide updated information about the Ebola virus to the university community when there is new information that could potentially impact faculty, staff and students."

He said students should contact the Health Links 24-hour phone line (at 204-788-8200 or toll-free 1-888-315-9257) or visit http://wfp.to/Ohx with any questions.

"University Health Service is closely monitoring the situation and will advise the university about appropriate communication needs and possible interventions should they become necessary," he said.

"All incoming international students from West Africa are being advised about the outbreak, possible travel complications if coming from impacted countries, symptoms of the Ebola virus, and to seek immediate health care should they become ill after arriving in this country. This information is being communicated to international students arriving at all U of M campuses," Danakas said.

Manitoba Health urged people to stay calm.

"International students, like any other travellers, would not be allowed to leave West Africa if they were a known contact of the Ebola virus disease (EVD)," said a provincial official.

"On arrival to Canada, symptomatic international travellers are screened by CBSA officers for communicable diseases. Travellers suspected of having a communicable disease are referred to PHAC quarantine officers who have the authority to implement public health measures under the Quarantine Act," said the province.

"There has never been a case of Ebola in Canada, and the risk to Canadians remains very low, as the Ebola virus does not spread easily from person to person. It's spread through direct contact with infected bodily fluids, not through casual contact," said the provincial health official.

nick.martin@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 28, 2014 A2

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