WHO sets up Ebola task force with global airline and travel sector

August 18, 2014

The World Health Organization said Monday that it had set up a task force with the global airline and tourism industry in an effort to contain the spread of Ebola.

The UN agency said it was working hand in hand with the International Civil Aviation Organization, the World Tourism Organization, Airports Council International (ACI), the International Air Transport Association and the World Travel and Tourism Council.

The goal, it said in a statement, was to "support the global efforts to contain the spread of the disease and provide a coordinated international response for the travel and tourism sector".

It added that the task force would "monitor the situation and provide timely information to the travel and tourism sector as well as to travellers".

The first closed-door session of the took place on August 13, the WHO told AFP.

On August 8, the WHO declared a global public health emergency over the outbreak of Ebola, a deadly and highly contagious virus which has spread since the beginning of the year from Guinea to Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria.

Concerns over were heightened because the outbreak in Nigeria was traced back to an ill traveller who flew from Liberia and infected contacts in Lagos.

In Monday's statement, the WHO reiterated that it does not recommend any ban on international travel or trade due to the Ebola outbreak, which has infected more than 2,100 people so far and killed 1,145.

The haemorrhagic disease is spread by direct contact with blood and other of infected living or dead persons or animals.

"The risk of transmission of Ebola virus disease during air travel is low," it said, underlining than unlike influenza or tuberculosis, Ebola is not spread by breathing airborne particles from an infected person".

"Travellers are, in any event, advised to avoid all such contacts and routinely practice careful hygiene, like hand washing," it said.

"The risk of getting infected on an aircraft is also small as sick persons usually feel so unwell that they cannot travel and infection requires direct contact with the body fluids of the infected person," it added.

To head off potential risks, the WHO reaffirmed that affected countries should "conduct exit screening of all persons at international airports, seaports and major land crossings, for unexplained febrile illness consistent with potential Ebola infection".

Anyone with an illness consistent with Ebola should not be allowed to travel, unless the journey was part of a medical evacuation, nor should people who have had contact with an Ebola case, it said.

The WHO underlined that most infections occurred in communities battling the disease or in health centres.

"The risk of a traveller becoming infected with the Ebola virus during a visit to the affected countries and developing disease after returning is very low, even if the visit includes travel to areas in which cases have been reported," it said.

Explore further: UN urges exit screening for Ebola at some airports (Update)

Related Stories

UN urges exit screening for Ebola at some airports (Update)

August 13, 2014
Ebola-affected countries should immediately begin exit screening all passengers leaving international airports, sea ports and major ground crossings, the U.N. health agency said on Monday.

Airlines agency considering passenger screening for Ebola

July 31, 2014
The International Civil Aviation Organization said Thursday it is considering passenger screenings for Ebola, now that the deadly virus for the first time has crossed international borders aboard an aircraft.

India steps up watch for deadly Ebola virus

August 9, 2014
India's airports went on alert and the government opened an emergency helpline Saturday as part of measures to tackle any outbreak of the deadly Ebola epidemic in the country of 1.25 billion people.

WHO holds emergency Ebola meeting

August 6, 2014
The World Health Organization on Wednesday began a two-day emergency meeting on west Africa's Ebola epidemic, with the UN agency deciding whether to declare it an international crisis.

Sierra Leone warns of contact with Ebola infected

June 27, 2014
Sierra Leone warned Friday that it is a serious crime to shelter someone infected with the ebola virus.

Ebola outbreak highlights global disparities in health-care resources

August 14, 2014
The outbreak of Ebola virus disease that has claimed more than 1,000 lives in West Africa this year poses a serious, ongoing threat to that region: the spread to capital cities and Nigeria—Africa's most populous nation—presents ...

Recommended for you

Study ends debate over role of steroids in treating septic shock

January 19, 2018
The results from the largest ever study of septic shock could improve treatment for critically ill patients and save health systems worldwide hundreds of millions of dollars each year.

New approach could help curtail hospitalizations due to influenza infection

January 18, 2018
More than 700,000 Americans were hospitalized due to illnesses associated with the seasonal flu during the 2014-15 flu season, according to federal estimates. A radical new approach to vaccine development at UCLA may help ...

Zika virus damages placenta, which may explain malformed babies

January 18, 2018
Though the Zika virus is widely known for a recent outbreak that caused children to be born with microencephaly, or having a small head, and other malformations, scientists have struggled to explain how the virus affects ...

Certain flu virus mutations may compensate for fitness costs of other mutations

January 18, 2018
Seasonal flu viruses continually undergo mutations that help them evade the human immune system, but some of these mutations can reduce a virus's potency. According to new research published in PLOS Pathogens, certain mutations ...

Study reveals how MRSA infection compromises lymphatic function

January 17, 2018
Infections of the skin or other soft tissues with the hard-to-treat MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) bacteria appear to permanently compromise the lymphatic system, which is crucial to immune system function. ...

Fresh approach to tuberculosis vaccine offers better protection

January 17, 2018
A unique platform that resulted in a promising HIV vaccine has also led to a new, highly effective vaccine against tuberculosis that is moving toward testing in humans.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.