Leading international bodies from the transport, trade and tourism sector have affirmed their support for the World Health Organisations (WHO) stand against general ban and restrictions that include general quarantine of travellers from Ebola-affected countries.
The Travel and Transport Task Force, established in August 2014, calls for international cooperation of governments and the transport sector in following the recommendations of the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee on Ebola, convened by WHO.
A statement issued in Geneva and copied to Ghana News Agency in Accra on Monday said WHO does not recommend general ban on travel or trade, or general quarantine of travellers arriving from Ebola-affected countries, as measures to contain the outbreak.
Members of the Travel and Transport Task Force include WHO, the International Civil Aviation Organisation, World Tourism Organisation, Airports Council International, International Air Transport Association, World Travel and Tourism Council, International Maritime Organisation, International Chamber of Shipping and Cruise Lines International Association.
Such measures could create a false impression of control and may have a detrimental impact on the number of health care workers volunteering to assist Ebola control or prevention efforts in the affected countries.
According to the statement such measures may also adversely reduce essential trade, including supplies of food, fuel and medical equipment to the affected countries, contributing to humanitarian and economic hardship.
The statement said the current exit screening of all persons departing affected countries through international airports, seaports and major land crossings is recommended by WHO and could reduce the numbers of people with symptoms from travelling from the countries with high levels of Ebola transmission.
“While screening upon entry into non-affected countries may provide an opportunity to further increase public awareness about Ebola, such screening also can require significant resources including staff, facilities and systems to care for ill travellers who might be suspected of having Ebola,” the statement said.
It said the best protective measures for non-affected countries are adequate levels of preparedness, including heightened surveillance to detect and diagnose cases early and well prepared staff and operational planning to ensure that suspect cases of Ebola are managed safely and in ways to minimise further spread.
The Travel task Forces recommended that communication campaigns should be conducted to inform travellers, airlines, shipping crews, staff working at points of entry, and health workers everywhere about the symptoms of Ebola virus disease and what to do if a person has symptoms.
The Task Force said Data on the efficiency of exit screening should be made available.
The Travel Task Force advised people who have travelled any of the affected West African countries currently affected by Ebola virus disease (Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone) to take precautions for 21 days after returning.
The measures include to stay within reach of a good quality health care facility; be aware of the symptoms of infection (sudden fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headache, vomiting, diarrhoea, rash, and sometimes bleeding) and immediately report a fever of 38° C or higher to their local medical emergency service (ideally by phone) and mention their travel history. GNA