Mali will not close its border with neighboring Guinea after a two-year-old girl infected with Ebola was brought across the frontier by her grandmother and died in Mali this week, President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita said on Saturday.
The girl travelled hundreds of kilometers through Mali - including a stop in the capital Bamako - on public transport, potentially exposing many people to the virus, before she died in the western town of Kayes on Friday.
Keita said that the incident showed it was impossible to completely seal his country off from Ebola in neighboring Guinea but said he remained calm as the girl's journey and potential contacts had already been traced.
"Guinea is Mali's neighbor. We have a shared border that we did not close and we will not close," he told France's RFI radio station.
Land-locked Mali relies on the ports of neighboring Senegal, Guinea and Ivory Coast as gateways for much of its import needs. There is little accurate data but border closures by West African states trying to protect themselves from the epidemic have had a crippling effect on regional economies.
Keita said that the girl's grandmother had made a mistake by going to a funeral in Guinea, where more than 900 people have died of Ebola, and bringing her back.
"We are paying dearly for this," he said. "But I think this will cause more fear than anything else. The case was quickly contained."
Genius! Pure genius!
The president of the country can't see an epidemic with 10,000 officially acknowledged cases right across his nation's borders as a problem.
When you have a nation of idiots, they elect one. I'd point and throw stones, but we seem to have a similar affliction right here.