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South African Airways to continue flying to Ebola-hit West Africa
August 14, 2014, 7:26 am

Ebola outbreaks have a case fatality rate of up to 90 per cent, says the WHO [Xinhua]

Ebola outbreaks have a case fatality rate of up to 90 per cent, says the WHO [Xinhua]

South African Airways (SAA) has said the airlines will continue to operate flights to and from Ebola-hit West Africa even as the death toll from the outbreak reached 1013. The African Union has pledged $1 million to help fight the disease.

The decision is consistent with the position adopted by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA), SAA spokesperson Tlali Tlali said.

The Emergency Committee of WHO on the Ebola outbreak in a meeting in Geneva from 6 – 7 August said there “should be no general ban on international travel or trade” to that region.

1,069 people have died so far from the deadly virus and an estimated 1,975 suspected cases have been reported since the outbreak in West Africa in March. There is no cure for Ebola and the WHO has declared the outbreak a global health emergency.

“Having noted the announcement by WHO, SAA has stepped up measures aimed at protecting its passengers, crew and ground staff,” said Tlali on Wednesday.

SAA flies to five destinations in West Africa, to Abidjan (Ivory Coast); Accra (Ghana); Cotonou (Benin); Dakar (Senegal) and Lagos (Nigeria). The WHO has also classified Kenya as a “high-risk” country for Ebola.

“There is no travel ban to any of these destinations as a result of the outbreak of the virus in that region. The airline remains committed to ensuring the enforcement of international health protocols associated with air transport,” said Tlali.

The virus is not airborne and no transmission may occur due to air circulation in the cabin. Earlier this week, South African Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi reiterated that there are no cases of Ebola reported in South Africa.

“We [are not] at the level of panic…” he said.

SAA staff will be vigilant for passengers on these routes who bear specific and visible symptoms associated with the Ebola virus, the spokesperson said.

“In the event that there is any doubt regarding the medical condition of any suspected passenger, SAA may elect to deny such passenger/s to board its aircraft.

“In cases where passengers develop symptoms after the aircraft has commenced its flight, the crew on board will initiate specific procedures that include isolating such passengers from others on board the aircraft,” said Tlali.

Ebola outbreaks have a case fatality rate of up to 90 per cent, says the WHO.

Ebola spreads in the community through human-to-human transmission, with infection resulting from direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes) with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected people, and indirect contact with environments contaminated with such fluids.


 TBP and Agencies


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