16 August 2014

WHO says Ebola unlikely to spread through air travel

The World Health Organization has stated that air travel to and from affected countries is not a high-risk activity for the spread of Ebola. Dr Isabelle Nuttall, speaking on behalf of WHO, said, “Air travel, even from Ebola-affected countries, is low-risk for Ebola transmission.”

Dr Nuttall emphasised that the disease is not spread by airborne particles, like influenza or tuberculosis. The infection is transmitted to others through direct contact with the bodily fluids of a sick person, such as blood, vomit, sweat, and diarrhoea. Even if an individual infected with Ebola virus disease (EVD) travels by plane, the likelihood of other passengers and crew coming into contact with the individual’s bodily fluids is very low.

The WHO does not recommend any travel or trade restrictions be applied except in cases where individuals have been confirmed or are suspected of being infected with EVD or where individuals have had contact with cases of EVD. The organisation stresses that contacts do not include properly-protected healthcare workers and laboratory staff.

As of August 13, 
the latest dates available as of August 15, there have been a total of 2,127 cases reported, including confirmed, probable and suspected cases, and 1,145 deaths, from the four West African countries dealing with the EVD outbreak. Between 12 and 13 August 2014, a total of 152 new cases of Ebola virus disease (laboratory-confirmed, probable, and suspect cases) as well as 76 deaths were reported from Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.

According to Flightstats, airlines in the Niddle East that fly to the four countries include Royal Air Maroc, which flies to all four countries, and Etihad, which flies to Conakry, Guinea and Lagos, Nigeria. Emirates and Qatar Airways fly to Lagos, Nigeria. Emirates had flights to Conakry but these are now suspended until further notice because of Ebola.

The WHO downplayed the possibility of a global pandemic here.