UAE airports, airlines closely monitoring Ebola outbreak

General view of Emirates Airlines check in area for first and business class passengers is seen, ahead of the arrival of the Airbus A380 in Dubai International Airport
General view of Emirates Airlines check in area for first and business class passengers is seen, ahead of the arrival of the Airbus A380 in Dubai International Airport

Airports in the UAE are adopting a ‘wait-and-see’ position on the outbreak of the Ebola virus in West African countries as no travel restrictions or screening protocols are in place so far, as reported by Gulf News.

Concerns regarding the global spread of the Ebola virus disease (EVD) via air travel began when Liberian-American Patrick Sawyer died of the virus in the Nigerian capital of Lagos. He was flying from Liberia in West Africa to attend a conference in Nigeria.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) said in its Travel and Transport Risk Assessment advisory that the risk of a tourist or traveller contracting the virus during a visit to affected areas is extremely low even if they visit local areas that have primary cases of the virus. The Ebola virus is not airborne but can be transmitted if a person comes in direct contact with blood, secretions, organs or other body fluids of infected living or dead persons or animals.

In Dubai, a spokesperson said they are keeping watch over the global situation and awaiting orders from the UAE Ministry of Health. “We’re monitoring the situation closely and we continue to keep in close contact with local health authorities [on any actions regarding issuing screening protocols].”

But even before any possible cross-country transmission happens in Dubai, Emirates took pre-emptive action by temporarily suspending its flights to Conakry.

“Emirates will be suspending its service to Conakry until further notice, due to outbreak of the Ebola virus in Guinea. We apologise for any inconvenience caused to our customers. However, the safety of our passengers and crew will not be compromised,” said a spokesperson from the airline.

“Our service to Dakar, Senegal, which is linked with Conakry, will not be affected. We will be guided by the updates from international health authorities,” he added. West African countries Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone have been hardest hit by the virus, which has killed 729 people and infected more than 1,300 this year.

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