Don’t place Ebola bans on travel – task force

A multi-sector task force advising on the impact of the Ebola virus has called on governments not to impose travel restrictions as a result of the outbreak.

The Travel and Transport Task Force on Ebola, which includes representatives from health, tourism, airport, aviation, cruise and shipping bodies, said it “stand[s] firmly with the World Health Organization (WHO)”, which does not recommend general bans on travel and trade, or the quarantine of travellers from Ebola-affected countries.

More than 5,400 people have died in the recent outbreak of Ebola
More than 5,400 people have died in the recent outbreak of Ebola

“Such measures can create a false impression of control and may have a detrimental impact on the number of health care workers volunteering to assist Ebola control or prevention efforts in the affected countries,” the task force said in a statement.

“Such measures may also adversely reduce essential trade, including supplies of food, fuel and medical equipment to the affected countries, contributing to their humanitarian and economic hardship.”

Instead, the group recommends exit screening of all travellers departing Ebola-affected countries through international airports, seaports and major land crossings. Screening upon entry into non-affected countries “may provide an opportunity to further increase public awareness about Ebola”, it added.

It also recommended communication campaigns “to inform travellers, airlines, shipping crews, staff working at points of entry, and health workers everywhere about the symptoms of Ebola”.

The task force also agreed that there should not be a general ban on people from Ebola-affected countries attending international meetings and events, but said hosts “may request additional health monitoring of participants”.

The latest outbreak of Ebola in West Africa has so far resulted in more than 5,400 deaths, mainly in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.

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