Emirates has become the first major airline to halt flights to Guinea, in the west African region affected by the recent Ebola outbreak. Upon announcing the stoppage of service, the airline said, "The safety of our passengers and crew is of the highest priority and will not be compromised."
The International Air Transport Associartion (IATA) and World Health Organization (WHO) each provide guidelines for airlines for pre-flight health screenings. An IATA spokesman said, "There has never been a case of contracting Ebola from being on a plane – it's extremely unlikely." The west African nations of Liberia and Sierra Leone are also within the region affected by the outbreak. Last Wednesday, Sierra Leone declared a state of emergency, and as of Thursday, WHO was not recommending travel restrictions or border closures.
Nigeria's largest airline, Arik Air, has stopped flights to Liberia and Sierra Leone. Nigeria has also banned African airline Asky from its airspace for bringing a case of Ebola into Lagos. Ghana has banned flights from the Ebola-affected region as well. Though Ebola was first discovered 40 years ago, the current outbreak has killed over 700 since February.
Doctors in Guinea treat areas for Ebola. Associated Press
Over the weekend, news outlets covered the evacuation of two American aid workers who had fallen victim to Ebola. victims, who were brought from Africa back to the United States for treatment at Atlanta's Emory Hospital. On Saturday, a woman who had travelled from Sierra Leone to London died shortly after collapsing on arrival at London's Gatwick Airport. Her death caused a scare for health officials, though her symptoms didn't match those associated with Ebola, for which there is no cure. Ebola symptoms include high fever, bleeding, and central nervous system damage. Thankfully, tests for Ebola came back negative for the deceased passenger.
UPDATE: British Airways has just announced it will suspend service to Liberia and Sierra Leone until August 31st.
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