The current outbreak of the Ebola virus is primarily affecting three countries in West Africa: Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Mali.
Senegal and Nigeria have been officially declared free of Ebola transmission by WHO as no new cases have been reported or detected through the active surveillance for the requisite 42 days since the last case was reported. WHO has declared the end of the outbreak of Ebola virus disease for these two countries.
There is a separate outbreak of Ebola in Democratic Republic of the Congo, which is not related to the outbreak in West Africa, and this appears to be under control.
The overall risk to the general UK population from Ebola is low and the risk to travellers depends on the activities the travellers have been engaged in.
Risks associated with international travel
The WHO has not restricted international travel and the risk for travellers becoming infected with Ebola virus depends on the activities they have engaged in but is low where there has been no direct contact with the bodily fluids of an infected patient. During an outbreak of this nature, the WHO reviews the public health situation regularly and recommends any travel or trade restrictions, as necessary. The FCO provides health advice within each country’s travel advice page. Travellers should be reminded to check the applicable country(s) travel advice before travel. These can be found at https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice
While travellers should always be vigilant with regard to their health and those around them, the risk of infection for travellers is low. Clients travelling to or returning from non-restricted affected West African countries may find it helpful to reassure customers of with the WHO advice regarding the Ebola situation and the FCO travel advice.
In the event that a traveller displays symptoms during air travel, WHO has issued travel and transport risk assessment interim guidance for public health authorities and the transport sector and airlines will implement illness management procedures recommended by the International Air Transport Association (IATA). Cruise lines will implement measures in association with CLIA and the Public Health authorities.
Advice for travellers travelling to or returning from Ebola affected countries
The UK Foreign Office currently advises against all but essential travel to Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea except for those involved in the direct response to the Ebola outbreak.
Elegant Resorts understands that travellers departing from the affected areas will be subject to screening on exit and may be prevented from travelling if they are unwell. They are also being advised that if they develop infectious disease symptoms (such as fever, weakness, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, vomiting) that they should seek immediate medical attention advising of their travel history
Preventative measures to reduce the risk of exposure
WHO provides details of preventive measures that can be taken to reduce the risk of exposure to the Ebola virus that members may wish to provide to customers and staff. This includes:
• Avoid contact with symptomatic patients and their bodily fluids
• Avoid contact with corpses and/or bodily fluids from deceased patients or participation in funeral rites
• Avoid close contact with live or dead wild animals (including monkeys, forest antelopes, rodents and bats)
• Avoid preparation and consumption of “bush meat”
• Wash and peel fruits and vegetables before consumption
• Practise safe sex
• Follow strict hand washing routines
UK airports, ports and stations
Screening measures are in place at some UK airports, ports and international rail stations and the UK Public Health authorities are continuing to work with the government and NHS to ensure the UK remains alert to, and prepared for, the risk of Ebola.
We recommend the following websites for information on the virus:
UK Government Response to Ebola
Public Health England
World Health Organization - WHO: Ebola Response Roadmap update