Airlines fight Ebola with heat scans and hand-washing
Flying to countries hit by the Ebola epidemic in West Africa is still safe, airlines and airports are stressing, news agency Reuters reports. Some airlines, such as British Airways and Emirates, have suspended flights to the region since the summer. Only Brussels Airlines now has direct services to Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. It and other carriers still operating take measures to protect passengers and crew.
At least 3,338 people have died so far in the worst Ebola outbreak on record. IATA acknowledged that the crisis had taken on a “new dimension” with the case in the United States involving a man who had arrived from Liberia last month. But flying remains safe, it says.
The virus is not transmitted by air but in contact with bodily fluids. It is contagious only once there are symptoms like fever, vomiting and diarrhoea – and these symptoms are so crippling that it is virtually impossible for anyone suffering them to board a plane, experts say.
The World Health Organisation has not placed restrictions on travel and encourages airlines to keep flying to the worst-hit countries.
“Travellers should be reassured IATA’s director general, Tony Tyler, said. “WHO has clearly said that the risk of Ebola transmission on board an aircraft is very low.”
At airports in Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria, and also at hubs like Addis Ababa, passengers entering and leaving must get a temperature scan and fill in a questionnaire about places they have visited. Airports in West Africa are stocked with antibacterial hand wash and plastic gloves. Brussels Airlines’ crew are allowed to refuse boarding to anyone who looks ill.
[image (Frederick A Murphy / CDC]