African airlines take precautions against Ebola

by Elayne Wangalwa 0

African airlines are taking cautionary measures to guarantee a limited spread of the Ebola virus in West Africa.

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) is enduring to collaborate with the World Health Organization (WHO) over the deadly virus that has claimed nearly 1,000 lives and more than 1,700 confirmed and suspected cases have been reported.

(READ MORE: UPDATE: Uganda tests first possible Ebola victim)

According to Raphael Kuuchi, Vice President for Africa at the International Air Transport Association (IATA) airlines should not suspend services to West African states hardest-hit by the Ebola virus.

“Restrictions outlined in the recommendation by ICAO should be what to be followed and states should provide travellers to Ebola affected areas with relevant information on the risk, measures to minimise those risks and managing a potential exposure,” Kuuchi told CNBC Africa.

The transport association has issued industry guidance on how to detect and deal with potentially infected passengers with respect to potential implications for air connectivity as WHO said there are possible consequences of further international spread of the outbreak after a two-day meeting of its emergency committee.

“IATA is guided by the advice of WHO, concluded its emergency meeting and came up with recommendations and we [IATA] strictly commend to those guidelines issued by ICAO. We have also issued similar guidelines following the lead and these are available to our members for compliance.”

(READ MORE: Africa needs to look inward to tackle Ebola)

Emirates became the first major international airline to suspend its services to West Africa. British Airways suspended its flights too citing the grave Ebola situation. However, airlines, such as Kenya Airways have continued with their flight operation in the region despite calls for travel restrictions to be imposed on countries affected by the current Ebola outbreak.

There is no vaccine or specific treatment for Ebola but several tests are underway. However, WHO announced that a life-saving Ebola vaccine will be ready by 2015.