CAPE TOWN, April 4 (Xinhua) -- South Africa will remain on alert to prevent the Ebola virus from entering the country, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said on Friday.
He was speaking amid fears for a possible Ebola outbreak in South Africa although authorities said such a risk is low.
Motsoaledi said that while the country had not yet taken any extra steps due to the stringency of South African borders, officials were being vigilant.
"We are always vigilant at our ports of entry whenever there's an outbreak somewhere, to make sure that we implement the international health regulations. We are just vigilant," the minister said in a statement posted on the government website.
At least 80 people have died from the highly contagious virus in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
The outbreak is believed to have originated from Guinea.
The South African National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) has said the introduction of the virus into South Africa from Guinea is considered low.
Though there have been a number of Ebola outbreaks in Africa in the last 30 years, South Africa is unlikely to be affected by an outbreak, the NICD said.
The outbreak is confined at the moment to remote rural parts of Guinea and few people would travel to this area for work or tourism, the institute said.
The spread of Ebola disease is a major topic at the ongoing 16th International Congress on Infectious Diseases in Cape Town.
The conference urged Western African governments to join hands in containing the spread of the disease.
There was a common understanding at the conference that Western African governments need to work together to ensure that the recent outbreak of the virus in the region be contained.
The Ebola virus causes Ebola virus disease (EVD) in humans, with a case fatality rate of up to 90 percent.
Ebola disease cannot be spread through casual contact but is rather transmitted from person to person through direct contact with blood or infected tissues from an infected person. Health workers and family members of infected persons in the outbreak area would therefore be at risk.