African Union (AU) members called for the removal of travel bans, that were imposed to control the spread of Ebola, to prevent the continent from falling into further economic lows, AFP News reported on Monday.
"It was agreed that as African member states we should urge all member states to lift all travel bans, so that people can move between countries, and to trade, and to open up the economic activities," said Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, African Union Commission chief.
Dlamini-Zuma added that while travel bans should be lifted, proper screening mechanisms should be also be placed at airports, land ports of entry, or sea ports, both at the countries where citizens will be departing and at the ports of entry.
According to the World Health Organisation, the death toll from the epidemic has so far reached 2,000 out of the 4,000 people who were reportedly infected.
West African cities; Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, are the worst hit.
Dlamini-Zuma stressed the urgent need to "craft a united, comprehensive and collective African response" to the outbreak, as he addressed the 54-member body in the bloc's headquarters in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.
"We must be careful not to introduce measures that may have more... social and economic impact than the disease itself. We should put in place tough measures to halt the spread of the disease, but we must also put in place measures to enable agriculture to continue and support the traders," noted Dlamini-Zuma.
The decision to lift the travel ban was made after a joint emergency AU meeting was called in to discuss the social and economic impact of the epidemic.
The border restrictions that came into effect after the fast spread of Ebola has hampered trade and led to major food shortages in regions most affected by the epidemic.
Meanwhile, Sierre Leone enters a four-day long lockdown, where citizens will not be allowed to leave their homes between 18-to-21 September, in an attempt to halt the spread of the deadly Ebola virus, announced Ben Kargbo, a presidential advisor on the country's Ebola task force on Saturday 6 September.