News / Health

WHO: Ebola Unlikely to Spread on Airplanes

A health worker takes a passenger's temperature with an infrared digital laser thermometer at the Felix Houphouet Boigny international airport in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Aug. 13, 2014.
A health worker takes a passenger's temperature with an infrared digital laser thermometer at the Felix Houphouet Boigny international airport in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Aug. 13, 2014.
Lisa Schlein

The World Health Organization says it does not recommend a ban on air travel to and from Ebola affected countries in West Africa. The U.N. health agency says the risk of spread of the deadly disease in an airplane is extremely low.

Korean Air announced Thursday it would suspend air travel to Kenya as of August 20 as a measure to prevent the spread of the Ebola virus. The first airline to take similar action was the Dubai carrier Emirates, which suspended air travel to Guinea on August 2.

The World Health Organization does not endorse a ban on travel or trade. It says air travel even from Ebola affected countries poses an extremely low risk of transmission of the disease.

WHO Director of Alert and Response, Isabelle Nuttal, said Ebola was not airborne like Influenza or tuberculosis.  She said the Ebola infection was passed on only through direct contact with a sick person's body fluid, such as blood, vomit, sweat or diarrhea.

"On the small chance that someone is sick on a plane, the likelihood of other passengers and crew contact with their body fluids is even smaller," she said. "A person infected with Ebola…this person can transmit the disease to another one only if he or she has the symptom of a disease - fever, vomiting, diarrhea.  A person that has no sign of the disease is not contagious, is not transmitting the disease to others."

Nuttal said usually people, who are sick with Ebola, felt so unwell they could not travel.  Therefore, she said WHO was advising against travel bans to and from affected countries.

Centers for Disease Control, stages of Ebola virus
Centers for Disease Control, stages of Ebola virus

West Africa is in the grips of the worst Ebola epidemic on record. More than 1,800 people are infected with the disease and more than 1,000 have died, most in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. Nigeria reports nine cases and two deaths. One person who died flew to Lagos from Monrovia, Liberia.

But, that person was allowed on the plane before WHO declared Ebola an International Public Health Emergency.  Nuttal said WHO recommended that airlines screen passengers going to or coming from Ebola-affected countries before allowing them to board the plane.

"They need to be able and prepared to detect, investigate, as they would do, generally speaking all year long any disease that may occur. This is the purpose of international health regulations - ensure that all countries do have the capacity to detect any event, that is something serious, severe…and able to immediately provide adequate treatment for that person," she said.

If someone was confirmed to have Ebola, she said that person would have to be isolated.

The World Health Organization says the perceived risk of catching Ebola is quite different from the real risk, which is very low. It says countries should carefully balance these risks before considering a travel ban. It says such bans have a bad economic impact on the travel and trade of targeted countries and are unwarranted.

You May Like

Russia Names US NGO 'Undesirable'

Prosecutors determine activities of National Endowment for Democracy to be 'undesirable,' paving the way for it to be outlawed on Russian territory More

Erdogan Vows 'Anti-Terror' Campaign in Syria, Iraq

Erdogan expressed confidence the 'necessary steps' will be taken by NATO leaders, who will meet Tuesday at Turkey's request More

North Korea: 'No Interest at All' in Nuke Deal

Senior US envoy Sydney Seiler visits Beijing Tuesday for talks on how to revive the stalled six-party nuclear talks with North Korea More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Wini
X
July 28, 2015 12:21 AM
The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Iran Nuclear Pact Wins Few New US Congressional Backers

Later this week, President Barack Obama returns from a trip to Africa to confront a U.S. Congress roiled by the nuclear accord with Iran, an agreement that has received the blessing of the U.N. Security Council. Days of intensive lobbying and testimony by top administration officials have won few new congressional supporters of the pact. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Obama Encourages Kenya to Fix Cultures of Corruption, Discrimination

President Barack Obama bid farewell to Kenya Sunday with a major speech at as stadium outside the capital Nairobi where he called on Kenyans to change the cultures of corruption and discrimination that can hold society back. VOA East Africa Correspondent Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video California Towns Welcome Special Olympics Athletes

Cities and towns in Southern California are greeting thousands of athletes who are arriving for Special Olympics, a competition for people with intellectual disabilities. The games will run from July 25th through August 2nd. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, where athletes from Namibia, Singapore and Tanzania got a rousing welcome from local residents.
Video

Video Critics of Japan Defense Policy Focus on Okinawa

In Okinawa, many locals have long complained that Tokyo places an unfair burden on the tiny island by locating most of Japan's U.S. military bases there. As Japan's government moves toward strengthening and expanding the country's defense policies, opponents of those plans are joining local protesters in Okinawa, voicing concern about where the country is headed. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Okinawa.
Video

Video IS Uses Chemical Weapons in Syrian Attack

Islamic State militants have added a new weapon in their arsenal of fear: chemical weapons. VOA Kurdish service reporter Zana Omer was on the scene within hours of a recent attack in Hasakah, Syria, and has details of the subsequent investigation, in this report narrated by Miguel Amaya.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.
Video

Video Hoverbike Flying Toward Reality

Another long-standing dream of many technological inventors is quickly approaching reality: U.S.- and British-based firms are cooperating in the development of an individual flying platform they call a hoverbike. They say it may revolutionize the concept of flying, including in the U.S. military. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video As Japan Expands Defense Role, Protests Follow

The Japanese government is moving forward with a controversial security bill that would authorize the military to fight abroad for the first time since World War II. Leaders say it is critical to defend against rising threats from China and North Korea. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Japan on the big changes ahead, and the opposition they are drawing.
Video

Video Replacing Poppies with Coffee in Myanmar

The remote mountains of Myanmar’s Shan state are home to the second-largest opium-producing region in the world. After a drop during the 2000s, production surged in the past eight years to feed an increasing demand for heroin in China. But farmers are now making less on the crop, and the U.N. is hoping many will make the switch to growing coffee. Daniel de Carteret reports for VOA from Taunggyi.

VOA Blogs