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Warding off Ebola a matter of economic survival for Caribbean

San Juan, Oct 21 (EFE).- Several Caribbean islands have recently barred entry by people coming from West African countries affected by Ebola as a measure of “economic survival,” an expert told Efe on Tuesday.

Tourism is “the backbone of the Caribbean economies,” Ivan Ogando Lora, director of the Dominican Republic’s Latin American College of Social Sciences, pointed out during a visit to Puerto Rico.

A suspected Ebola case in any part of the Caribbean will hurt tourism throughout the region, he said.

“Can you imagine if a Caribbean country registers an Ebola case? That will mean a reduction of its tourism industry de facto and, maybe, for all of them,” Ogando Lora said.

The bar on visitors from Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea is not an excessive measure, he said.

Given “the fragility of the health systems and the lack of infrastructure” to identify and treat a possible case of the deadly virus, “no action to prevent Ebola is exaggerated,” he said.

Ogando Lora emphasized that the Caribbean Public Health Agency and the Caribbean Community are playing an important role in the economic security of the region by “regionally coordinated health policies” to prevent the spread of the virus.

So far, Jamaica, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Kitts and Nevis and Antigua and Barbuda have established bans on visitors from certain countries in West Africa.

The Ebola virus has killed more than 4,500 people over the last 10 months, mainly in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, according to the latest figures from the World Health Organization. EFE