AFCAC and AFRAA Joint Statement on the Ebola Outbreak and Air Travel

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(10 October 2014)

The African Civil Aviation Commission (AFCAC) and the African Airlines Association (AFRAA) would again like to draw attention to the unnecessary measures which some countries and airlines have continued to take to ban flights to and from the areas affected by Ebola Virus Disease (EVD).

AFCAC and AFRAA recall that the West African Ministers of Health arising from their meeting in Ghana on 29 August, 2014 agreed that travel restrictions imposed to combat Ebola should be lifted, following advice from the World Health Organisation (WHO) which stated that the restrictions create food and supply shortages and harm efforts to contain the deadly virus. The  World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) have advised that the risk of transmission of Ebola virus disease during air travel is extremely low.

Unlike infections such as influenza or tuberculosis, Ebola is not spread by breathing in air (and the airborne particles it contains) from an infected person. Transmission requires direct contact with blood, secretions, organs or other body fluids of infected living or dead persons or animals, all unlikely exposures for the average traveller.

The risk of getting infected on an aircraft is also very small as infected persons are usually so sick that they cannot travel and infection requires direct contact with the body fluids of the infected and sick person.

WHO has urged governments not to impose blanket bans of trade and travel on countries affected by the EVD. In spite of this, it has been noted that there is a growing number of countries and airlines severing links to three West African states. Meanwhile, it should be mentioned that the few airlines which are still flying to the region are actually helping to contain the Ebola outbreak by transporting medical staff, supplies and equipment to the affected West African States.

The WHO and ICAO caution that States must take measures commensurate with the risk rather than take blanket measures to cut off travel and trade. According to the WHO, actions commensurate with the risk of Ebola spreading through air travel have already been taken in the three most-affected countries through the screening of passengers. ICAO has stated that affected countries are conducting exit screening of all persons at international airports, seaports and major land crossings. Airports in the affected countries are already screening travelers for any signs of fever or other symptoms.

WHO has set up a task  force with the global airline and tourism industry in an effort to contain the spread of Ebola. WHO has also stated that it is working hand in hand with ICAO, the World Tourism Organization (WTO), Airports Council International (ACI), International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) to support the global efforts being made to contain the spread of the disease and provide a coordinated international response for the travel and tourism sector.

Information on Ebola outbreak in some Western African states can be found at the following

WHO and ICAO websites:


www.icao.int/Newsroom/Pages/joint-statement-on-Ebola-virus-disease- outbreak.aspx

Last Updated on Friday, 26 December 2014 08:40  

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