Ebola outbreak: Emirates becomes first major international airline to suspend all flights to virus-affected region


Just the start?

Just the start?

I was speaking to some friends on Skype earlier yesterday and we asked this exact question ‘How long till Countries close Air traffic or Airline stop flying to effected areas” Well here we are, I believe this will be the first of many. I live on a small Island and the Government in the UK have hinted about closing travel in and out of the UK

From the UK Government: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/ebola-government-response

The UK government is closely monitoring the spread of the Ebola virus in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea. This page will be updated regularly.
Ebola virus
An Ebola outbreak was confirmed in Guinea in March 2014 and quickly spread to Liberia.

Ebola haemorrhagic fever is a rare but severe disease caused by the Ebola virus. Ebola is highly transmissible by direct contact with organs or bodily fluids of living or dead infected persons and animals.

The UK government is closely monitoring the outbreak in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea. This is the largest outbreak of the Ebola virus in recent times and there are no reports of British citizens being infected.

Should I be worried about this outbreak?
This is not an issue that affects the UK directly. We have experienced scientists and doctors – the Royal Free Infectious Disease Unit, the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine – and a lot of experience of dealing with dangerous diseases. The risk of this disease spreading fast in the UK is much lower because of that.

The UK government is taking precautionary measures and looking at capability but is confident that the UK has experienced people who are ready to deal with anything if it were to arrive here. Read the latest assessment of the outbreak in West Africa and an assessment of the situation in the UK by Public Health England. Following a meeting of government committee COBR, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said: We’ve looked at how we are co-ordinating with our French and American colleagues under the World Health Organisation; we’ve considered what additional measures the UK could take to help control the outbreak in West Africa; and we’ve also looked at what measures we need to put in place on a precautionary basis in case any UK nationals in West Africa should become affected by the disease. We do not, at the moment, think this is an issue that affects the UK directly.

What are the arrangements at the border?
Border Force has been working closely with Public Health England and other agencies to ensure staff are prepared to deal with the threat of the Ebola virus.

As part of this planning, guidance has been issued to front line staff on how to identify and safely deal with suspected cases of Ebola that makes clear what steps need to be taken should a passenger arrive at the border unwell.

If a person is identified at the border as being a potential carrier of Ebola they will be immediately referred by a Border Force officer to a specialist medical care provider and reported to the Public Health England.

Travel advice
Travellers to Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea are advised to follow the health advice issued by the National Travel Health Network and Centre.

Get the latest travel advice for Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea. Government actions to help affected countries. In Liberia and Sierra Leone, the Department for International Development is making a £2 million package of assistance available to partners including the International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC) and Médecins Sans Frontières that are operating in Sierra Leone and Liberia to tackle the outbreak.

This latest round of funding is in addition to support the UK has been providing since the outbreak of the disease in February 2014. In Sierra Leone and Liberia the UK has been supporting agencies to increase awareness and understanding of the disease within the community, to improve treatment for those infected and to prevent its spread within and across borders. This includes working with the WHO to train health workers and provide the supplies they need to tackle the outbreak. The UK has also funded initiatives to improve public information, including radio messaging programmes, on the outbreak in Sierra Leone to help control the spread of the disease. In Liberia the UK has provided chlorine and other materials for hygiene and sanitising. Other organisations helping to contain the outbreak

International agencies such as Médecins Sans Frontières, UNICEF, WHO, the UN Population Fund, USAID and the Red Cross have all been on the ground helping the health services of the countries affected. The international community has contributed more than £2 million in aid, including £300,000 from the EU. Get the latest advice and information if you are a humanitarian aid worker. On 2 and 3 July WHO convened a meeting in Accra to coordinate regional activity and develop an Ebola virus response strategy. The UK government is supporting this process.

 

The Emirates airline has suspended all flights to Guinea in West Africa in a bid to prevent the further spread of the deadly Ebola virus.  The Dubai-based airline is the first major international airline outside Africa to impose a ban in response to the outbreak, which has so far killed more than 729 people across four countries. Described by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as by far the worst outbreak ever recorded in the disease’s four-decade history, it originated in Guinea and spread to Liberia and Sierra Leone. A further case was reported after a man flew to Lagos, Nigeria – sparking fears the disease would be spread further by international air travel.

Emirates said its flights to Conakry, the capital of Guinea, were suspended from Saturday until further notice. “We apologise for any inconvenience caused to our customers, however the safety of our passengers and crew is of the highest priority and will not be compromised,” a statement read. The airline, which does not operate services to Sierra Leone or Liberia, said it would continue to provide flights to Dakar in Senegal. It said further decisions on West Africa would be “guided by the advice and updates from the government and international health authorities”.

The heads of state of the four countries affected by the outbreak met with Dr Margaret Chan, the Director-General of the WHO, to discuss the crisis on Friday. Dr Chan warned of the potentially “catastrophic consequences” of an outbreak “moving faster than our efforts to control it”, and the world leaders agreed to take stronger measures to ensure Ebola does not spread beyond the region. The Emirates’ ban follows the issuing of guidelines from both the WHO and International Air Transport Association (IATA), which has also seen several major airlines and airports begin screening passengers for illness. Nigeria’s largest airline Arik Air, which flies to a limited number of international destinations including London, has stopped flights to Liberia and Sierra Leone. And the pan-African airline Asky was suspended by Nigeria’s civil aviation authorities for bringing the first Ebola case, involving the Liberian diplomat and US citizen Patrick Sawyer, to Lagos.