The Ebola disease outbreak which has been affecting Western Africa for the past 5 months is still not under control. It appears that local medical responses are organizing to face the crisis on the long term while neighbouring countries struggle to avoid importation of the disease into their territory.
Scepticism by some of the local population and lack of confidence in the healthcare provided to patients are complicating the crisis and creating additional challenges for medical teams (attack on a healthcare centre in Monrovia on August 18th).
On August 14th 2014, the W.H.O. “reiterated its position that the risk of transmission of Ebola virus disease during air travel remains low”(…) “WHO is therefore advising against air travel bans” (…) Nonetheless, consistent with airline guidelines, travellers should use prudent judgment in avoiding contact with any passengers who have obvious symptoms of illness.
Locally, the risk of coming into close contact with the disease or being contaminated remains low for expatriates or travellers following strict hygiene rules (cf. Ebola Outbreak Memo).
However, there is a real risk of facing the indirect consequences of the epidemic: compromised healthcare facilities and limited access to medical care, increasing restriction on air transportation options after the annulment of regular flights to the affected countries, by a number of air operators, restrictions on movements, airport screenings, and strict guidelines for the transfer of inbound patients from impacted countries.
Such measures are expected to affect all patients, including those suffering from conditions other than Ebola and will likely delay and complicate attempts at evacuation.
For all the above reasons, our emergency evacuation assistance partner recommendation remains to avoid or interrupt any travel to the affected countries for nonessential personnel. You will find in the attached memo the most recent updates and additional useful information.
Dr Cai Glushak International Medical Chief Medical Officer