Ebola Virus Disease Outbreak in West Africa
On 8 August 2014, the Director General, World Health Organization declared the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) Outbreak in West Africa a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC), under the provisions of the International Health Regulations (2005).
The situation in West Africa continues to change and so for the latest information, please refer to the World Health Organization website http://www.who.int/csr/disease/ebola/en/.
On 13 August, 2014, the Director General, WHO convened a conference call with the heads of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), Airports Council International (ACI), the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC). It was decided to reconvene the Travel & Transportation Task Force (under ICAO) to coordinate the dissemination of information to the various industry stakeholders. It was also agreed to issue a Joint Statement to provide factual information on the EVD outbreak and to reiterate the WHO’s position that travel restrictions and active screening of passengers on arrival at sea ports, airports or ground crossings in non-affected countries that do not share borders with affected countries were not currently recommended. This Joint Statement was issued on 18 August 2014 and a copy can be seen here.
On 14 August 2014, ICAO convened the first conference call of the Travel & Transportation Task Force, the members of which include the organizations listed above plus the European Aviation Crisis Coordination Cell (EACCC) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA) and the International Shipping Council (ISC) representing the maritime sector. The task force continues to meet via conference call, on a weekly basis.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued a guidance document titled ‘Travel and Transportation risk assessment: Interim guidance for public health authorities and the transport sector’, which provides advice on raising the awareness of travelers and health care providers, as well as guidance for international air transport and the maritime sector. A copy can be downloaded here.
The WHO does not recommend any ban on international travel or trade. Similarly, the Director General, WHO does not currently recommend the active screening of passengers on arrival at airports (seaports and ground crossings) that do not share borders with affected countries.