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HindustanTimes Sat,20 Sep 2014

Ebola threat: Sex workers asked not to entertain Africans

PTI  Kolkata, August 17, 2014
First Published: 18:16 IST(17/8/2014) | Last Updated: 18:40 IST(17/8/2014)

Sex workers in Kolkata's largest red light area Sonagachi have been asked by an NGO, working for their welfare, not to entertain Africans who are regular visitors to the place in the wake of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee (DMSC), a forum of 1,30,000 sex workers in West Bengal, has warned of a life risk should they come in contact with infected persons.

"We have requested the sex workers not to entertain Africans as it can be a life risk for them if they get infected by the highly contagious Ebola virus causing havoc in some West African countries," Mahasweta, a member of the DMSC, told PTI.

Durbar is presently training and providing classes to sex workers to identify the signs of an Ebola-affected person.

"According to WHO guidelines, transmission of the virus requires close contact with body fluids such as sweat, saliva, cough of an infected person and also body contact. So we are training the sex workers on how to identify the symptoms," Samarjit Jana of Durbar, who is looking after the training programme, told PTI.

Jana says that the traning schedule forms a part of the regular training programme in which sex workers are taught on sexually-transmitted or body contact transmission disease.

Asked if the guideline applied to all foreigners, not just Africans, who showed the symptoms, Jana said, "This is for the sex workers to decide. We can request them for their own safety and we have told them to be be careful."

According to the latest WHO update, 128 new cases of Ebola virus disease as well as 56 deaths were reported from Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone between August 10 and 11, bringing the total number of cases to 1,975 and deaths to 1,069.

The Ebola virus is highly contagious, but is not airborne.

Jana said that the training programme, which started this week in Sonagachi, would be extended to other red light areas in the city as well as the entire state, especially in port and bordering areas.


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