No travel restrictions in West Africa despite widening Ebola virus outbreak

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A nurse comforts a patient who has been diagnosed to have the Ebola virus. Photo: WHO/Chris Black

The World Health Organization (WHO) says the risk of the Ebola virus being transmitted by airline passengers travelling from the affected countries remains low, but cannot be ruled out.

WHO is not recommending any travel restrictions or border closures due to the Ebola outbreak but is urging health authorities and airlines flying from the affected countries to be extra vigilant.

The organization says the Ebola outbreak in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone remains precarious with ongoing community and health-facility transmissions of infection.

Over 729 people have so far died after being infected with the Ebola virus.

Liberia and Sierra Leone have declared a public health emergency and quarantined the epicenters of the outbreak.

Gregory Hartl is the WHO spokesperson in Geneva.

"The risk of someone travelling by air who is already infected with Ebola is quite low. You need to touch someone who is visibly ill or come in contact with their bodily fluid in order to get sick yourself. If you were to touch someone you normally would get sick quite fast, so we think that the risk of their being cases exported by air is rare although it may happen. WHO has been in contact with its sister UN organization for airlines ICAO and is also been in contact with the organization that represents airlines IATA and together they are looking at precisely these questions and we will update our advice on airline travel in the coming days."

WHO Director General Dr. Margaret Chan is in West Africa where she is expected to meet with leaders from the affected countries on Friday to review the on-going Ebola response plans and how to step up public health interventions to contain the outbreak.

Patrick Maigua, United Nations, Geneva.

Duration 1.50″

UN Radio Daily News Programme
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