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Countries ban Ebola zone visitors after US airline alert

October 17, 2014 Aviation, Headline News No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59Two countries, Colombia and St Lucia, moved yesterday to ban entry of travellers who have visited any of the West African nations at the centre of the current Ebola epidemic. Other countries are considering doing likewise.

The moves came as US health authorities scramble to trace all 132 passengers who flew on Frontier Airlines flight 1143 from Cleveland to Dallas/Fort Worth earlier this week. On that flight was a Dallas nurse who has now become the second nurse to be diagnosed in the US with Ebola. Both young nurses caught it while working in the same hospital ward caring for a Liberian man who flew to Dallas from Liberia in West Africa, developed the disease in Texas and died in hospital.

The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced that the second nurse diagnosed with Ebola flew with a low-grade fever a day before she showed up at the hospital reporting symptoms.http://www.dusit.com/

The plane made five additional flights after her trip before it was taken out of service, according to a flight-monitoring website.

The news sent shares in the biggest US airlines diving between 5% and 8% yesterday before recovering in afternoon trading.

The next three weeks will be crucial as the dreaded disease has an incubation period of up to 21 days.

Meanwhile, Colombia in South America confirmed it will deny entry visas to anyone who has visited Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria or Senegal within the preceding four weeks, on advice from its health department.

Colombia’s move followed a similar decision by the small Caribbean island of St Lucia.  St Lucia is poor, small (about 200,000 people) and highly dependent on tourism. Its government says it lacks the resources to deal with any catastrophic medical event.

Calls for similar moves at US borders are rising. People want arrivals from Ebola-zone countries either barred from entry or, at the very least, quarantined. The Speaker of the US House of Representatives, John Boehner said yesterday: “A temporary ban on travel to the United States from countries afflicted with the virus is something that the president should absolutely consider along with any other appropriate actions as doubts about the security of our air travel systems grow.”

A new poll by the Washington Post and the ABC News network in the US shows that 67% of Americans favour “restricting entry to the United States by people who’ve been in affected countries.” Only 29% oppose the suggestion.

Health officials are downplaying the likelihood of anyone on Frontier Airlines flight 1143 catching the deadly disease, which kills about 70% of all those who catch it.

Chief executive of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Tony Tyler, told reporters in California that he felt worries over Ebola were unlikely to reduce air travel.

US President Barack Obama urged calm yesterday, stressing that Ebola is not easily spread unless someone is showing symptoms. He added, however, that monitoring of Ebola must be done in a “much more aggressive way”.

Meanwhile, the New York Post reported yesterday that anti-Ebola HAZMAT moon-suits have become the in costume for Halloween this year. “Sick or treat” was the paper’s front-page headline for the story.

Written by : Peter Needham

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