World Health Organization Recommends Ebola Affected Countries Start Screening All Passengers
An airport worker measures body temperature as part of the Ebola screening process at Lungi International Airport in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Photograph: Meng Chenguang/Xinhua Press/Corbis
UN health agency urges screening at airports, sea ports and borders, but says risk of transmission during flights is low
The UN health agency urgedEbola-affected countrieson Monday to start screening all passengers leaving international airports, sea ports and major ground crossings.
There is a low risk of the Ebola virus being transmitted during air travelbecause unlike infections such as influenza or tuberculosis, it is not spread by breathing air and airborne particles from an infected person, the World Health Organisation said. Nonetheless, all travellers are urged to routinely wash their hands and anyone with an illness consistent with the virus should not be allowed to travel unless it is part of an appropriate medical evacuation.
The WHO said countries unaffected by the Ebola outbreak in west Africashould still strengthen their ability to detect and immediately contain new cases, without doing anything that unnecessarily interferes with international travel or trade. But it said countries did not need to impose travel restrictions and active screening of passengers if they did not share borders with Ebola-affected countries.
A taskforce to monitor Ebola's impact on travel and transport has been set up by the WHO, along with the International Civil Aviation Organisation, World Tourism Organisation, Airports Council International, International Air Transport Association and World Travel and Tourism Council.
Most of the infections in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone have occurred when family members or friends caring for those who are ill or during burials do not follow infection prevention and control measures, WHO officials said.