World Health Organization declares Ebola in West Africa to be international emergency

An expert committee of the World Health Organization (WHO) has concluded that the uncontrolled Ebola outbreak in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone constitutes an international health emergency. Briefly, the report calls for greater national and international efforts to curtail the spread of this infection. Of interest to travellers, the WHO recommends that affected States should screen all persons for signs of Ebola as they exit the country at international airports, seaports and major land crossings. Anyone with signs of illness may be denied exit.

The WHO has also stated that there should be no general ban on international travel or trade. Nevertheless, several countries, including Australia, Canada and the United States are recommending against all but essential travel to the affected countries.

In Liberia, a 90 day state of emergency has been declared, and people from the western regions of Grand Cape Mount and Bomi are being prevented from entering Monrovia. In Sierra Leone, security forces have imposed a complete blockade of Kenema and Kailahun districts.

Since transmission of Ebola virus occurs only under special conditions, the risk to the general traveller remains very low.

Visit our Health Library for more information on exposure to and the prevention of Ebola Viral Disease.

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