WHO, Aviation Groups Urge Focus on Containing Ebola, Not Inhibiting Air Travel
Posted at 4:35 p.m. on Aug. 18, 2014
The heads of international travel, aviation and the the World Health Organization issued a joint statement Monday urging national governments and air carriers to not respond to the Ebola outbreak by resorting to “measures that will create unnecessary interference with international travel or trade.”
The statement came from the WHO, the International Civil Aviation Organization, the World Tourism Organization, Airports Council International, the International Air Transport Association and the World Travel and Tourism Council.
It said, “The risk of transmission of Ebola virus disease during air travel is low.”
Unlike influenza, for example, Ebola “is not spread by breathing air (and the airborne particles it contains) from an infected person,” the statement noted. Transmission of the Ebola virus requires contact with blood or other body fluids of infected persons or animals, “all unlikely exposures for the average traveler.”
So far the four countries where Ebola outbreaks have been detected are Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, and Guinea.
The joint statement requested that countries with Ebola outbreaks “conduct exit screening of all persons at international airports, seaports and major land crossings, for unexplained febrile illness consistent with potential Ebola infection. Any person with an illness consistent with EVD [Ebola virus disease] should not be allowed to travel unless the travel is part of an appropriate medical evacuation.”
It also said countries where there has been no Ebola outbreak should “strengthen the capacity to detect and immediately contain new cases,” but should not take steps that would interfere with international travel or trade.
It noted that the WHO does not recommend a ban on international travel or trade.
The joint statement also said that WHO did not recommend travel restrictions and screening of arriving passengers at sea ports, airports or ground crossings in non-affected countries that do not share borders with the four affected countries.