Tourism in Africa has declined as fear of ebola spreads and people need to know that there is no ebola in East Africa. Below is an update from Kenya Tourism Federation.
21st October 2014
ACTION TAKEN TO PREVENT EBOLA OUTBREAK FROM REACHING KENYA
Following extensive news coverage in the international media about concerns that the Ebola outbreak in West Africa could spread to other countries in Africa or to places with airports receiving flights from the affected areas, we are advised that the situation is now as follows:
1. The current outbreak of Ebola in West Africa was first reported in March 2014, and currently involves three countries, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, on the extreme West of the African Continent, thousands of kilometres from Kenya and indeed closer to Madrid, Paris and London than to Nairobi in East Africa on the other side of the continent.
2. Action has been taken by the international community with the involvement of the World Health Organisation (WHO) to assist the governments in the three West African countries affected by the Ebola virus to contain the disease and to prevent the spread of the disease overland to the neighbouring countries in the region. It has been confirmed that Senegal and Nigeria, which recently had cases of Ebola, have now succeeded in controlling the situation and have eradicated the disease. The World Health Organization announced that it will increase efforts to prevent Ebola spreading beyond the three countries most affected by the deadly virus: Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. Neighbouring countries including Ivory Coast, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Gambia andMauritania are being prioritised to receive more help in screening, prevention and rapid response to prevent the spread of Ebola into other parts of West Africa.
3. There has never been any case of Ebola in Kenya in the past and since the current outbreak in West Africa there has been no case of Ebola reaching this country.
4. From 19th August Kenya Airways temporarily suspended all its flights between Liberia and Sierra Leone to Nairobi on the advice of Kenya’s Ministry of Health, as a measure to prevent the spread of Ebola from those countries until the outbreak there has been brought under control. The Kenya government also announced other restrictions because of the on-going Ebola outbreak in West Africa and is temporarily suspending entry into Kenya of any passengers who have passed through Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia.
5. Travellers from other countries in West Africa can come to Kenya by air just as they can travel at present on flights from West Africa to Europe, America, the Middle East, Asia,Australia and elsewhere in the world. The international airlines have implemented screening for passengers boarding flights in West Africa and the Kenyan Government and the Ministry of Health, working in close co-operation with the Kenya Airports Authority, have now set up arrangements at the international airport in Nairobi to screen all passengers arriving on flights from West Africa to prevent any infected person from entering the country and, if required, to provide medical care in an isolation unit.
6. It is considered highly unlikely that travellers from the affected countries in West Africa would come to Kenya overland by road as it could entail a journey of more than 2 weeks and would require driving through places like the CentralAfrican Republic, DRC or Southern Sudan where there are serious security issues and disruptions to road travel. Any infected person setting off from West Africa to undertake such a journey by road to Kenya would be very likely to have developed obvious symptoms before arriving at the Kenya border post where screening is now in place to identify and isolate anyone considered to be at risk of carrying the disease so that appropriate medical treatment may be given if required. Travellers from Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea are not permitted to cross the border and enter Kenya so the possibility of Ebola spreading overland from the affected countries in West Africa to Kenya is considered extremely unlikely. As mentioned, WHO is taking measures to prevent the disease spreading from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea to neighbouring countries in West Africa and it should be noted that both Senegal and Nigeria have succeeded in eradicating the disease within their borders.
7. According to the medical authorities, the overall risk of a traveller or tourist contracting Ebola on an aircraft or in an airport is very low as it requires direct contact with the bodily fluids or secretions (e.g. blood, saliva, urine, etc.) from an infected person who is already exhibiting symptoms or from the dead body of a person who died from Ebola. Ebola is not an airborne virus like influenza or tuberculosis. It is not spread by infected persons coughing or sneezing into the air and is not present in water or food. Simply washing hands with soap and water can destroy the virus. It should also be noted that infected individuals who have not yet developed symptoms of Ebola cannot transmit the disease to others. It takes time before infected persons develop symptoms of the disease and they become contagious only after the first onset of symptoms. As symptoms worsen, the ability to transmit the virus increases. As a result, patients are usually most likely to infect others at a severe stage of the disease, when they are visibly, and physically, too ill to travel and at that stage they will probably not be physically capable of boarding an aircraft unassisted.
8. The World Health Organization (WHO) is therefore advising against imposing travel bans to and from affected countries. The Director of WHO Global Capacity Alert and Response has stated that because the risk of Ebola transmission on aircraft is so low, WHO does not consider air transport hubs at high risk for further spread of Ebola. The highest Ebola virus level is found in a dead body, according to WHO, so the highest risk of Ebola transmission is in preparing a body for burial. The persons most at risk are those in very close direct contact with infected patients or corpses, such as doctors, nurses, mortuary attendants or family members caring for infected relatives.
9. The WHO has commended Kenya for its efforts in putting in place measures to prevent possible importation and to implement early detection and containment if a case is detected in an arriving traveller.
10. Staying in international hotels in Nairobi and at the coastal beach resorts or going on safari to the wildlife parks in Kenya at the present time is considered to entail no risk of contracting Ebola and there is no reason for visitors to cancel or postpone travel plans to Kenya. We will continue to monitor the news bulletins and daily updates from The World Health Organisation and Kenya’s Ministry of Health to ensure that we are kept informed and can act in the interests of our visitors’ safety, which is always our highest priority.
Lucy Karume Jake Grieves-Cook
Kenya Tourism Federation Kenya Tourism Federation