WHO urges exit screening for Ebola at some airports


GENEVA: The UN health agency is urging Ebola-affected countries to start screening all passengers leaving international airports, sea ports and major ground crossings.

The World Health Organization says the risk of the Ebola virus being transmitted during air travel is low but anyone with an illness consistent with the virus should not be allowed to travel unless it is part of an appropriate medical evacuation.

In a statement, the WHO said even countries unaffected by the Ebola outbreak in West Africa need to strengthen their ability to detect and immediately contain new cases without doing anything that unnecessarily interferes with international travel or trade.

But it said countries don’t need to impose travel restrictions and active screening of passengers if they do not share borders with Ebola-affected countries.

The WHO statement came as Etihad Airways said it had disinfected one of its planes after health authorities in Abu Dhabi announced that a Nigerian woman who died after flying in to the UAE capital may have been infected with the Ebola virus.

The health authority in Abu Dhabi said in a statement that the 35-year-old woman was traveling from Nigeria to India for treatment of advanced metastatic cancer.

Her health deteriorated while in transit at Abu Dhabi International Airport.

As medics were trying to resuscitate her, they found signs that suggested a possible Ebola virus infection.

The health authority noted, however, that her preexisting medical condition also could have explained her death.

Medical staff treating the woman followed safety and precautionary measures in line with World Health Organization guidelines, the health authority statement added.

The woman’s husband, who was the only person sitting next to her on the plane, as well as five medics who treated her are being isolated pending test results on the deceased woman.

All are in good health and show no symptoms of the illness, according to health officials.

The WHO considers the risk to passengers traveling on a flight with an infected person to be very low.


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