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Ebola: Uganda puts restrictions on Guinea team

September 8, 2014

KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — Top Guinean sports leaders were prevented from traveling to Uganda for an African Cup qualifier and players and coaches are banned from leaving the capital city during their visit because of fears over the spread of Ebola, officials in both countries said Monday.

The Guineans were also being constantly monitored by a public health expert at their hotel while they are in Uganda for Wednesday’s African Cup of Nations qualifier, said Edgar Watson, the chief executive of Uganda’s football association.

Guinea is one of the worst-affected countries in a West African outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus that has killed more than 2,000 people, over 500 of them in Guinea.

Watson said the restrictions were by order of the Ugandan government.

Mamadou Ba Blaire Camara, a spokesman for Guinea’s football federation, said “the authorities in Kampala have imposed draconian restrictions in their role as hosts.”

Uganda placed limits on the number of people Guinea brought, restricting the West African delegation to 25 people — just players and coaching staff. Guinea’s sports minister, football federation president and accredited reporters were not allowed to travel, Camara said. Uganda also banned Guinean fans from coming.

Additionally, the Guinea players and coaches cannot leave Kampala and are under round-the-clock observation by a health official for any signs of Ebola.

“The only other alternative would have been to say, ‘Please, no game takes place,’” Watson, the Ugandan association chief executive, said.

After the match the Guineans will be expected to leave the country immediately, Watson said.

The Confederation of African Football, which oversees the sport in Africa, says that countries hosting delegations from Ebola-affected nations can screen their visitors on arrival to ensure they aren’t showing symptoms of Ebola. CAF said there was no need for general travel bans but can do little to prevent governments from enforcing them.

Ivory Coast only agreed to host a game this weekend against Sierra Leone — another country hit by the Ebola crisis — because the Sierra Leone football federation picked a squad of only foreign-based players.

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Diallo reported from Conakry, Guinea.

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