Sex workers in Siliguri
The sex workers in Kolkata have been warned not to entertain customers from Africa. [Representational Image]Reuters/Rupak De Chowdhuri

The sex workers from Sonagachi, Kolkata, the largest red-light area in Asia, have been warned about the symptoms and the effects of the Ebola virus, and have been requested not to entertain anyone who is from Africa, or anyone who exhibits any of the symptoms of the deadly virus.

These sex workers have been asked to not even entertain their regular customers, who hail from Africa, as this might just be the root cause of the Ebola virus spreading inside the country.

The initiative has been taken up by the Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee (DMSC). The DMSC is a faction of around 1,30,000 sex workers from the state of West Bengal, in India. They have warned the sex workers at Sonagachi about how they could contract the disease, and what are the symptoms and effects of it.

"We have requested the sex workers not to entertain people from African nations as it can be a life risk for them if they get infected by the highly contagious Ebola virus, which is causing havoc in some West African countries," said a DMSC member.

The DMSC is currently training the sex workers of Sonagachi about the virus, which has killed more than 1,000 people in the four West African Countries of Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria.

"According to WHO guidelines, transmission of the virus requires close contact with body fluids such as sweat, saliva and the cough of an infected person, and also body contact," said Samarjit Jana of the DMSC, who is in charge of the training programme, to NDTV. "So we are training the sex workers on how to identify the symptoms."

However, Jana did say that these were all guidelines, that the DMSC had set for the sex workers to follow. The decision on whether they want to accept a particular customer, or turn him down, rests solely with the sex worker in question.

"This is for the sex workers to decide. We can request them for their own safety and we have told them to be careful," said Jana.

According to the latest reports by the US Centres for Disease Control, 1,145 people have succumbed to the Ebola virus and 2,127 more have been infected by it, in West Africa.

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