Dominican Republic joins entry ban for Ebola-affected countries

By Manuel Jimenez

By Manuel Jimenez

SANTO DOMINGO (Reuters) - The Dominican Republic joined other countries in banning entry to foreigners who have visited Ebola-affected countries in the last 30 days, the country's Ministry of Public Health announced on Tuesday.

The Caribbean country joined several other states in the Americas, including Colombia, Jamaica, and St. Lucia, to issue travel bans.

In the United States, the Obama administration is also under pressure from some Congress members to ban travel from epidemic-stricken Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea in West Africa, where nearly 4,500 people have died of the disease.

The Dominican health ministry said the ban applied to any foreigner who had visited countries where the World Health Organization (WHO) had declared an Ebola alert.

The provision, issued by the Ministry of Public Health, instructed immigration and civil aviation authorities to take all necessary measures to ensure full compliance with the measure.

"It is urgent that all agencies responsible for the control and supervision of arrival in the country of citizens to observe this provision," Health Minister Altagracia Guzman Marcelino, said after a meeting with health officials.

The health ministry also announced funding to create a specialized Ebola treatment center at the Ney Arias Lora hospital in the capital, Santo Domingo, to handle any possible cases.

Earlier this month Haiti, which shares the island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic, banned its nationals from volunteering for international missions to African countries hit by the Ebola virus, citing other diseases that have devastated the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.

A statement signed by the Ministers of Health, Interior and Defense was released after news appeared on social networks that the United Nations was recruiting volunteers to respond to the Ebola outbreak.

(Editing by David Adams; Editing by Diane Craft and Jonathan Oatis)